You will see this again

5 January 2005

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/pacificnw/2004/1128/cover.html

http://emacswiki.org/cw/InformationOverload

A Wired paradigm

You’ve seen them in cafe’s, on buses, and at shopping malls. They’re kids with headphones in their ears and a cell phone in one hand who can read the Wall Street Journal while simultaneously carrying on conversations with two different people, one of whom isn’t even physically present.

They consume information as easily as you breath air. Filtering, analyzing, evaluating, and discarding or storing every gigabyte that flows their way, you wonder how they can keep track of it all. The answer is simple.

They can’t.

Dealing with the onslaught

There’s more knowledge in the world now then there has ever been before. And if you’re like most people, you’re probably suffering from information overload. You feel like there’s just too much out there. You can’t take it all in. You can’t know it all.

Relax. No one expects you to.

[What’s below is my first draft of this essay.]

Deja vu

Do you ever notice things reoccurring in your life?

Not that you do the same things over and over (you might), but instead that you’re being exposed to the same ideas over and over. Each time, those ideas might be in a slightly different forms, but they’ll show up again and again. Your brain has the amazing capability to recognize patterns and draw connections between diverse elements. But what your brain really excels at is re-exposing you to concepts fundamental to your existence.

We are provided with a lesson again and again until we learn it.

There is no new information

We have seen it all before, and we’ve forgotten it all before. As fundamentally wonderful as the human brain is, it is also forgetful. But we are entering into an era where we have the capability to change that.

You’ve seen them in cafe’s, on buses, and at shopping malls. They’re kids with headphones in their ears and a cell phone in one hand who can read the Wall Street Journal while simultaneously carrying on conversations with two different people, one of whom isn’t even physically present.

They consume information as easily as you breath air. Filtering, analyzing, evaluating, and discarding or storing every gigabyte that flows their way, you wonder how they can keep track of it all. The answer is simple.

They can’t.

Knowledge at your fingertips

The human brain is not designed as a long term storage mechanism. We have to see something again and again (some researchers say as many as eight times) before we remember it. Much more than that before we understand it. This methodology for learning is inefficient and frustrating. Why can’t we improve it?

We can. As we enter into a Wired paradigm, the tools we need to augment our realities are becoming readily available. Our personal computers have almost reached the point where they are capable of storing and retrieving as much information as our brains.

So why don’t we harness that power? Before you can use something, you have to understand it. That means you have to know the rules that govern the system.

Rule 1: You will see this again

There is a fundamental constant in the information universe:

You will be exposed to the ides that promote your growth and development until you learn the lessons they have to teach.

What this means is that you should pay attention to the concepts that resurface again and again in your life. They’re important. It’s okay to lose sight of them every once in a while. They’ll come back. When they do, ask yourself why.

Rule 2: You will remember more if you don’t work at it

Stress is the number one killer of memory. To that end, it’s important to have a system whereby you can get ideas out of your head and into a space where they’re safe. A notebook, a laptop, whatever works for you. Get it out of your head and into a better storage medium.

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