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May 13, 2012

Information is Food

There are tons of data out there, so many interesting thoughts and news – and the with the development of the Internet it is getting easier to access all the information as well as to create them.

I think it’s great that sharing of information became much easier – as sharing means bringing people together and be able to evolve something new. To share means to inspire and to grow.

But I have to admit: as much as I love the idea of sharing, I very often feel overwhelmed by all the possibilities and information sources. I regularly experience what Alvin Toffler described 1972 as “information overload“, when I get lost again in doing some “research” online, when I look for inspiration or when I try to stay “up to date” with the development of the UX industry.

Today I got inspired by JP Rangaswami’s TED talk: Information is Food.

He compares pieces of data with food – and I like that picture a lot as it reminds me to be as selective with information as I am with food. I try to eat healthy and to listen to my body – I should do the same with information.

So here is my conclusion I cam up with after listening to Rangaswami’s thoughts:

  1. Define a goal: Before you start with looking for information you should define a goal – and be precise about it. What do you want to learn? (Sure there are times where it is just about “browsing” and discovering something new – but even that can be a goal).
  2. Reflect on the value: Not all that’s out there is valuable; while reading or scanning a text or watching a video you should ask yourself if this is getting you to the right direction and closer to your goal. If not: skip it!
  3. Single-tasking: Information that is presented online is always cross-linked to other pieces of information – which can be helpful to dig deeper but it can also be distracting. Focus on your goal, narrow your mind – if you come across other interesting information that is not related to your original goal note it down and take a look at it at another time.
  4. Time to digest: Give yourself some rest in between to digest all the information that you discovered. Sum it up and rephrase what you’ve learned.

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