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Having Too Much Information Can Narrow Your Focus 144

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-grandma-i-don't-want-to-hear-about-your-doctor's-visit dept.
CeruleanDragon writes "This excerpt sums up Dave Pell's article at NPR pretty well: 'Google's Eric Schmidt recently stated that every two days we create as much information as we did from the beginning of civilization through 2003. Perhaps the sheer bulk of data makes it easier to suppress that information which we find overly unpleasant. Who has got time for a victim in Afghanistan or end-of-life issues with all these tweets coming in?' It's a valid point. If it's not tweets or Facebook posts, it's lengthy forum arguments or reading news articles from the time you walk in the door at work until you're ready for bed at night, and realizing you didn't actually accomplish anything else. Sometimes too much information can get in the way of living and can bury otherwise important things."
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Having Too Much Information Can Narrow Your Focus

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  • Too early. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 13, 2010 @05:33PM (#33246758)

    I will come back to the thread later, when there are several hundred comments to read.

    • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Saturday August 14, 2010 @04:25AM (#33249710) Journal

      He has a valid point. More information != better informed. I could spend all day following celeb drivel and not know what days it is.

      BUT I object to the "caring about some victim in Pakistan". I can be very well informed, and still not give a shit. Why does being informed having to mean I should care? There are plenty of rich muslim nations, let them donate some for a change. They wanted their own Red Cross, let it take care of their own. You see, being well informed means knowing that the Red Moon isn't all that well organized and Muslim nations that insisted it be created are very poor donors (pledges mean nothing, money actually paid out counts).

      So, if Iran doesn't care, why should I?

      Being well informed I also know that any money I donate personally in such a country will not reach the people I intend it to go to. An uninformed person might think ten bucks goes to feed a starving family. An informed person knows it goes to some tribal chiefs new car.

      It is tricky isn't it? An uninformed person doesn't have a bleeding heart because they don't know about it. An informed person heart isn't bleeding because he knows the background.

      Perhaps what the article writer wants is to have people informed JUST enough so they agree with his vision of the world. After all, someone who thinks exactly like me must be very well informed and highly intelligent. If a person who thinks exactly like me was a blittering idiot... well that just isn't possible. I might be thought to be a blittering idiot and clearly I am not!

      Just what is living a life. What is an accomplishment? If a person enjoys twittering, then isn't that living the life he wants to life? Some say an achievement is to go forth and reproduce. If you haven't got a dozen kids or more, you are failing. But because someone else thinks that, does that mean everyone should think that.

      Life is futile. No matter what you do, you die and the way our society works we need more passive people then revolutionaries. If everyone made a difference in the world, we would never get done reading the newspaper.

      99% of people life in their own small part of the world, barely touching the rest of it. They collect matchboxes or know every soccer match ever played and then they die and it is gone. They mattered in their own little world but in the global scheme of things? Not so much. That is life. Learn to accept it or run for president... and what will Clinton and Bush be known for? Getting bush in and global war. I think someone scoring 1000 tweets is a lot less harmful.

      • by u38cg (607297)
        Perhaps you should try looking up information before sounding off with a thinly veiled rant. The Red Cross is the same thing as the Red Crescent. Each country has its own organisation and structure, and there are two separate umbrella organisations that co-ordinate international effort as required. There are three main symbols for the Red Cross - the cross itself, the crescent moon of Islam, and a red lozenge symbol used by the Israelis. There are also a couple of defunct ones as well. As for where you
    • The REAL big picture of this story, from wikileaks [wikileaks.org]: "The proposed PR strategies focus on pressure points that have been identified within these countries. For [Insert Country Here] it is the sympathy of the public for Afghan refugees and women.".

      FTFA: "reality of what is happening — and what can happen — in a war that affects and involves all of us. I would rather confront readers with the Taliban’s treatment of women than ignore it.". Time Managing Editor Richard Stengel.

      I will come back to the thread later, when there are several hundred comments to read.

      Not much to wri

  • by swschrad (312009) on Friday August 13, 2010 @05:35PM (#33246770) Homepage Journal

    perspective is import... OOOHHHH, shiny.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      My grandparents got a color TV before my family did. We'd go to their house and glom onto to the set. My grandparents sighed. Then they told my dad to buy any color TV he wanted and they would pay for it. We weren't so dazzled at the grandparents house anymore, so they got to spend time with their grandchildren. They could have just ruled no TV watching at their house. My grandparents were clever, compassionate people.

      Technology, like people, become socialized as they mature, but we're the one's who a

  • by xMilkmanDanx (866344) on Friday August 13, 2010 @05:35PM (#33246778) Homepage

    sounds like a day in the life of average slashdotter. honestly this is too many days of my life lately. I think I'll go write some code.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      For the longest time I couldn't understand why anyone would troll the Slashdot news articles. It's relatively easy to get positive mods on your comments if you can post something half intelligent in the first few minutes of an article going up, as long as you write in a clear and concise manner.

      Except today I realized something;
      No one upmodded my comments, so there weren't as many responses to my comments. There weren't as many responses so I didn't visit slashdot as much. I didn't visit slashdot as much an

  • TV? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Friday August 13, 2010 @05:36PM (#33246786) Journal

    If it's not Tweets or Facebook posts, it's lengthy forum arguments or reading news articles from the time you walk in the door at work until you're ready for bed at night, and realizing you didn't actually accomplish anything else

    RIght, because before the information explosion on the internet, people never watched TV from the time they walked in the door until they were ready for bed at night, accomplishing nothing. The newest shiny toy is always a distraction, if you aren't going to learn to overcome being distracted, there will always be a new thing to ruin your productivity.

    And if you disagree with me, by golly, I'll stay here and argue with you until the sun goes down if I have to!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by willabr (684561)
      "The civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny failed to take into account man's most infinite appetite for distractions." Aldous Huxley
    • Re:TV? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by CrashandDie (1114135) on Friday August 13, 2010 @06:36PM (#33247228)

      There's another thing that makes me go "duh", even more than the TV argument.

      Books.

      I recently had a discussion with a friend who was amazed that these days, there was so little censoring in the 100+ page media. He wondered if our governments (or corporations as he now calls them) were getting sensible.

      I've always been amazed at this train of thought. Books don't require censoring anymore. There are so many books coming out, every single day, that it would be impossible for the public at large to have a "big thought" pierce through the cloud of utter bollocks that is being printed. Books had a very big potential for spreading ideas around the world; or at least countries.

      Everyone can get a book published and printed. Heck, I have two books in print, and three which are currently being "worked on" -- and I went the old way, with a publishing house taking me under their wing, and I have some semi-monk semi-guru who tries to inspire me on a weekly basis.

      Today, you'd be hard pushed to find anything remotely interesting or exposing novel ideas. It seems to me that as a whole, the amount of information is only a repercussion of a more general trend: people don't give a shit. After having to deal with mortgage, picking up the kids and dealing with an ego-driven sadistic boss, people don't want to care, they don't want to think.

      Does this mean that there has been a shift in the way people think, or the fact they want to unwind? No, not at all.

      The only real difference, is that now, through the limited costs of publishing things around the world, the crap you used to hear at the local pub now comes right into your inbox, or some idiot in Vermont has enough free time to actually write a whole book around it.

      The dynamics haven't changed one bit. Only how the media presents itself, and how the crap flows down the drain.

    • Re:TV? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by hedwards (940851) on Friday August 13, 2010 @09:35PM (#33248374)
      Actually, this is probably correct. It's been known for some time that sales end up going down in stores that offer too many choices. People will develop a strategy of just randomly grabbing a bottle of ketchup, picking the habitual brand or not buy any at all. More than a few choices tends to lead to paralysis and nobody ends up selling their item. I don't personally think that it's a stretch to extend that to information which only costs the time it takes to find and evaluate it.

      It's worse now because we have some degree of control over it. When I was a kid and we only had a couple channels, that wasn't a problem, we could flip channels or turn it off, that was about it. These days though, we've got a ridiculous number of sources available and it's far more than the take it or leave it that we used to have. We can't really default to a whatever's on approach and end up with anything other than static.
      • by tehcyder (746570)

        Actually, this is probably correct. It's been known for some time that sales end up going down in stores that offer too many choices. People will develop a strategy of just randomly grabbing a bottle of ketchup, picking the habitual brand or not buy any at all. More than a few choices tends to lead to paralysis and nobody ends up selling their item.

        If I am going shopping for ketchup, it is because I need ketchup, I'm not going to not buy it just because there are twenty varieties to choose from.
        Don't pe

    • by astar (203020)

      Fact worship involves a sort of an epistomological bias. Sometimes useful, like most things. But things often get to a point that claiming you need one more fact in order to act or decide or whatever is nutty. So we generate a lot of facts. But if we managed a lot of profound concepts, then things would be impressive. Hmm, think of the difference in science between adding one more digit to a constant and coming up with an Einstein trick like a fundamental principle of the universe. The digit may "prov

  • by seanadams.com (463190) on Friday August 13, 2010 @05:36PM (#33246794) Homepage
    When faced with an engineering problem, I can dip into the vast sea of information at my fingertips and instantly find answers instead of spending all day flipping through hardbacks at computer literacy, bullshitting with local sales reps to try and get copies of data sheets faxed to me, or just plain wasting time figuring out something out that's already been solved. This leaves me more time to work on the interesting stuff, or fart around on Facebook if I feel like it. I'm failing to see the downside. If you're a distractible person you can be even more distracted if you want to. If you're a productive person you can be even more productive if you want to. More information, please.
    • by mangu (126918)

      More information, please.

      Agreed. It's not only that we have more information, we have more easily accessed information.

      Instead of wasting time looking for information generated by humans, I can devote my time to looking for information hidden in nature.

      • by robot256 (1635039)
        Instead of wasting time looking for the right information, I can waste time absorbing the wrong information!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      If you're a distractible person you can be even more distracted if you want to. If you're a productive person you can be even more productive if you want to.

      Or, if you're subject to both tendencies, you can suffer from Extreme Informational Cognitive Dissonance Syndrome and eventually end up playing Tetris all day.

      Yes, one can suffer from both at once. As an example, it's like spending four intense hours searching forums trying to find that one variable setting you need to make xorg work pro

  • Bull. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Friday August 13, 2010 @05:37PM (#33246800)

    The bulk of information created before the advent of the Printing Press has been lost. We only have fragments of data from the Roman Republic and Western Empire. Same goes for a host of empires and states.

    We create more bytes of data and more copies of data while we track things much closer, we really don't know what was created before. We don't know all the works of art, mundane information and data saved by the Romans, Greeks, Han, Aztecs, Maya, Egyptians or Celts, or any of the thousands of other civilizations.

    • Re:Bull. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Friday August 13, 2010 @06:04PM (#33246972) Homepage Journal

      We create more bytes of data and more copies of data while we track things much closer, we really don't know what was created before.

      You know, that makes me wonder how much of all this data that we're assuming is going to create a "permanent" archive is really going to be permanent.

      I remember hearing about this kind of information overload back in the days when we backed up data on 200MB magnetic tapes. Those tapes got stacked in closets, pile upon pile, and nobody's ever going to look at most of them ever again.

      I wonder if in 250 years people are going to say the same thing about our culture that you said about the pre-printing press days. A lot of books were printed that are gone forever. Magnetic coatings on mylar tape have flaked off. I've got a drawer full of old external drives. I'd bet that in 10 years if I were to plug one in, assuming there were still USB ports on computers then, that at least one of those drives is going to fail.

      I'm not saying digital information isn't more persistent than print on vellum or impressions on clay cylinders, but at some point somebody has to care about that information if it's really going to be available to future generations. Look how many films from as late as the 1970s have already deteriorated and are lost. I just heard someone talking about the archives of the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Apparently, John Lennon and Paul McCartney were on together once in the early 60's. But because some production manager decided that tape was too expensive not to re-use, there are no copies left to see except about 2 minutes of 8mm film someone shot off of his TV set (at a different frame rate, too).

      Even when you have a "permanent" record, at least today, it's not really permanent unless someone cares enough to maintain it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Wyatt Earp (1029)

        There was alot of tape destruction and data loss in early TV, like pretty much the entire DuMont network, a ton of black and white stuff from the 40s, 50s and 60s.

        Sure I create a ton of data during a day, but alot of those numbers are artificially high, I go out and google search and get hits back, all those google logo, ads on the side, those go millions of times a day, so is that "information" created each time it's uploaded and then downloaded?

        So would information created in 1500 include the audio inform

        • by EdIII (1114411)

          /. in 2300: More p0rn is created every nano-second than was ever downloaded from 2000-2010

          Really? Well, from 2000-2010 we have generated a LOT of porn. That is a LOT of girls naked and fucking. According to your future statistic, that means there will be, in just one day, 10 trillion times more naked chicks fucking .

          That means my odds of getting some of that had to increase by at least 1/2%. Future is looking good....

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            You're on /., so let's make a quick calculation...

            0 * 1.005 = 0

            Not "looking good" to me.

          • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

            that means there will be, in just one day, 10 trillion times more naked chicks fucking .

            Are you packet-sniffing my DSL line?

            I admit, my attention-span has diminished, but I don't think I've ever gone over 2 trillion.

            Wait, are we counting up-skirt and fetish videos?

      • by c6gunner (950153)

        Of course. The really important stuff will get saved. Some of the background noise will also survive, just due to the curiosity of historians and archivists. The rest will be flushed or just lost with time. Status quo - no change over what we have from past generations. The only difference is that our population is so much bigger, and our archival methods so much better, that the sheer quantity of saved data is bound to be much higher. But the idea that EVERYTHING we generate will be archived forever?

      • by Kjella (173770)

        True, but the degree of care is much, much lower. At the last count, my home server could hold the whole print collection of the Library of Congress (10TB). That's pretty much every brain splurge anyone got published as the deposit requirements hit pretty fast. In compressed form, the entire English wikipedia is ~6 GB or less than 1/1000th of that. At that point nobody has to really care about the one text, just if anybody is interested enough to keep the archive alive.

        Spotify carries 8 million tracks, if w

      • by argStyopa (232550)

        Agreed. The other thing not mentioned is that the metric of data 'size' has in fact little relationship to the information value of the message.

        A single-page newspaper ad from 1905 stored digitally is maybe what, 18k bytes if stored?
        A 30-second TV spot today, that contains approximately the same informative value, in 1080p is 8 megs?

        So yes, the 'modern' data is nearly 500x the old datasize, but the amount of useful information conveyed is the same (OK yes, for those splitting hairs there is more actual inf

    • by EdIII (1114411)

      Additionally, although we create a huge amount of data on a daily basis how much of it is actually stored past a year or two? How much of it will ever be seen again?

      I generate several dozen gigabytes in log files every week, but with logrotate that data is going to be destroyed automatically. I expect that statistic includes an awful lot of information that is similar.

      As for your example, I am sure your right that there was a Roman citizen who owned a tavern and kept some sort of logs during his course of

    • While the time scale involved when talking about human civilization prior to 2003 is large, the increase in human population over the past two decades is an even larger factor. Consider that there are currently 6% of the people alive today that ever lived and died, in the entire history of humanity (really, look it up. That's 1/16 of the people in a 1/52,000yr time slice.), and you begin to realize the scale of what we produce, not just in information, but also in material. Factor in that writing materials
      • by Wyatt Earp (1029)

        And the bulk of the people alive today create no digital or analog data.

        One doesn't need to have writing to have information or culture.

    • Re:Bull. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Darinbob (1142669) on Friday August 13, 2010 @06:25PM (#33247114)
      The article confuses "data" with "important recorded stuff". Long before Twitter people would say "I'm going to lunch now". People used to have long discussions in person without the internet being involved. People crunched lots of numbers too. The difference is that now it's recorded and saved.

      What is more accurate is to say that "we're archiving more useless data now than we ever used to before".
  • it's lengthy forum arguments
     
    I didn't argue in a forum today.

    • by HuguesT (84078)

      Thanks for the link, excellent stuff.

      However I think both Orwell and Huxley were right. Both "brave new world" and "1984" are upon us right now.

  • Herbert Simon (Score:4, Insightful)

    by QuietLagoon (813062) on Friday August 13, 2010 @05:41PM (#33246820)
    In an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.

    -- Herbert Simon (1916 - 2001) [wikipedia.org]

    • Seems like a convincing argument to get people to stop reading and go back to the coal face.
      • I look at it as a convincing argument for IT to present information to everyone in a manner that is concise, that more information is not necessarily better, as it distracts the information consumers from the main task of running the business (because they are hip-deep in information that is not pertinent).

        Just as large quantities of spam reduces the usefulness of email, large quantities of irrelevant information reduces the usefulness of the information provided by our corporate information systems.

        • It should be presented with a concise overview. Linked to that there should also be as much relevant detail as can be collected economically.
    • Given that in capitalism it's always the scarce good which is paid for, shouldn't we get paid by the information providers for giving them part of our attention? :-)

      • Given that in capitalism it's always the scarce good which is paid for, shouldn't we get paid by the information providers for giving them part of our attention? :-)

        We do get paid. Some of my friends did some sort of "watch adds, make $5 an hour" 'job' through highschool. But most information sellers still tend to barter: "We'll let you hear about important happenings in your area, right after these commercials!" Unfortunately the people who want to buy our attention often only wish to let us learn how to give them their money back or otherwise waste our time and money.

        Information is plentiful, but _good_ information, relevant or enjoyable to me is a scarce commodity a

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by tee-rav (1029032)
        The price to keep a person on task is high; the price to distract one is relatively low.

        We are selling our attention whenever we're on the clock.

        When we're recreating, it's different: Capitalists, having made a big enough bunch of us look at some shiny content they own, then sell other Capitalists the right to divert our attention with their ads.

        Good, well-placed ads distract people and keep them on task long enough to spend their money.
  • Now let me just jump straight into reading the comments, and ignore the article all together.

  • ADHD? (Score:2, Funny)

    by KnightBlade (1074408)
    Yeah it gives a new meaning to ADHD. You start reading something on slashdo.... Hey ars technica is reviewing tha.... oooo gotta retweet thi.... dammit! I missed my vanpool. It almost happened.
    • That really happens to me :( I'll be reading a technical article or something and as I'm flipping to a tab with the diagram or something, I look to see what the market is doing, what's posted on /., post some 2-bit opinion on /., then over to Digg to post another 2-bit opinion or fuck with someone, then to see news, then I realize I just pisses away 30-40 minutes and then I'm back to the article and looking at the diagram.

      Then, the article mentions another diagram or I have to look up a term and round and

  • by amanicdroid (1822516) on Friday August 13, 2010 @05:50PM (#33246880)
    The world is an information-rich place. It was before we showed up and after we leave. The only difference we make is that we intentionally record data.

    When you walk on the beach your interpret the sound waves of information as noise because you're unable to comprehend any deeper meaning than the existence of waves crashing nearby.
    • I think more or less this guy is just whining that people don't pay attention to what he thinks is important. I see no evidence that people aren't capable of paying attention to important things anymore. However not everyone considers everything important the same as everyone else. Also there's the simple fact that when talking about bad news, after awhile you get dull to it and you don't want to hear anymore, you want an escape. I certainly remember that on 9/11. After watching the news on it for a few hou

  • One problem is that "information" is largely supposed to make things easier by giving you access to something that was already done: someone else already went out there and collected meticulous information on frog populations, so it's easier to get access to that information than go out and count frogs yourself. But as information multiplies, sometimes it really is easier to just count the damn frogs instead of making sense of the voluminous and often inconsistent frog literature.

    Diderot noticed this in 1755, in a famous passage:

    "As long as the centuries continue to unfold, the number of books will grow continually, and one can predict that a time will come when it will be almost as difficult to learn anything from books as from the direct study of the whole universe. It will be almost as convenient to search for some bit of truth concealed in nature as it will be to find it hidden away in an immense multitude of bound volumes."

    • Presumably indexes, catalogs and the like weren't invented until 1756?

    • Search (Score:3, Insightful)

      by neoshroom (324937)

      One problem is that "information" is largely supposed to make things easier by giving you access to something that was already done: someone else already went out there and collected meticulous information on frog populations, so it's easier to get access to that information than go out and count frogs yourself. But as information multiplies, sometimes it really is easier to just count the damn frogs instead of making sense of the voluminous and often inconsistent frog literature. Diderot noticed this in 1755, in a famous passage:

      "As long as the centuries continue to unfold, the number of books will grow continually, and one can predict that a time will come when it will be almost as difficult to learn anything from books as from the direct study of the whole universe. It will be almost as convenient to search for some bit of truth concealed in nature as it will be to find it hidden away in an immense multitude of bound volumes."

      I disagree. What we actually find is that paragons are held up and improved upon and our search skills have exceeded what Diderot expected. Diderot foresaw in a library of a billion books that if you wanted to know how tall the local mountain was, it may actually be faster to simply go to the local mountain and plot it's height than to actually wade through all those books for the precise piece of information.

      However, in reality, it didn't end up like that at all. We type "What is the height of Blue [wikipedia.org]

    • ...because you have to sort out the garbage from the truth after you narrow down what you're looking for. and that requires effort. That doesn't mean all information is low value or has negative value. Take a look at the Internet. I might google specialist information, but i'm much more likely to go to a specialist source such as arxiv for astronomy or pubmed for medical literature because I know that information is higher quality than every nut job's take on Relativity or Immunology.

    • He was right, but we've coped with it, though at some cost.

      We must specialize to a high degree. It's far more difficult to be a polymath now than in the 18th century. This greatly reduces the amount of information that must be dealt with.

      We must rely on experts and tradition to dictate what we read. Tradition and experts say that there are only a handful of long-form prose fiction works from the 18th century that are worth reading, and damn near all the rest are complete shit. Unless one wishes to speci

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You don't care sufficiently about issues I care about, and I believe popular social media is the culprit!

  • "...reading news articles from the time you walk in the door at work until you're ready for bed at night, and realizing you didn't actually accomplish anything else. " - hmmm, as long as the people signing the paycheck don't realize that i didn't actually accomplish anything else and slashdot keeps feeding me news and lengthy forum arguments i don't mind :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...you've wasted another moment in your life. Could've become a millionaire, but oh well.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    This isn't news. The book is called Future Shock.
  • Don't you really mean the opposite?
    • by SomeJoel (1061138)
      You know, I wasn't sure either, so I looked it up on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]. That was hard to understand, so I googled it and got this answer from Answers.com [answers.com]. But that left me even more confused, like wondering why that entry would be filed under "Sports Science and Medicine". I then looked for a book on google books [google.com] to aid my understanding. And apparently a narrow focus is a necessity for good business, as well as "animals in the wild". This was especially disconcerting because I didn't even know animals cared at ALL
  • One of the major things that annoy me about networking services like Facebook and Twitter is the amount of useless information that is generated. Just generating information is not good enough, it needs to be useful, beneficial.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      It's a matter of vocabulary.

      Until it is useful, it is only data. When it becomes useful, it becomes information.

      Information is data that has value in reaching an informed opinion or making an informed decision.

  • Who's got time for a victim in Afghanistan or end-of-life issues with all these Tweets coming in?' It's a valid point. If it's not Tweets or Facebook posts, it's lengthy forum arguments or reading news articles from the time you walk in the door at work until you're ready for bed at night

    Now some jackhole Senator is going to start campaigning about how Slashdot is responsible for civilian deaths in Afghanistan, the current economic crisis, and the elderly having inadequate welfare just to cover up his latest sex scandal. Way to kill off the competition NPR. =P

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "... Sometimes too much information can get in the way of living and can bury otherwise important things."

    Too much information always gets in the way. Napoleon Hill was the original mass-market "motivational speaker". He dedicated his life to teaching a science of success. One of the key aspects of Hill's philosophy is to focus on one's "definite major purpose" in life. What are you doing with your life? Some people are artists, others look to promote public health, others are builders or teachers.There are as many purposes as there are people.

    This excerpt comes from Napoleon Hill's 9-cd package, "Your Right To

  • Attention (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ryanisflyboy (202507) on Friday August 13, 2010 @06:07PM (#33246990) Homepage Journal

    I was listening to an interview on NPR while in my car. The point made was that most human beings have to work to pay attention, and can be easily distracted. It does not come naturally. As an example they explained that listening to the radio while driving made you a poorer driver. This is because most people's brains are incapable of processing that much information at one time. Just as this was said I started hearing car horns behind me. I had switched my attention from driving to the radio interview about paying attention while driving. I had stopped at a green light.

    I believe that most of us have a physiological limit of how much sensory input we can process at once, and how fast we can switch our full attention from one task to the next. The distractions I have right now: the blackberry dinging, the "new mail" flag popping up, the "bell on screen 1" messages, gathering status of several simultaneous running jobs, and writing this post. Something has to be tuned out or lots of work is completed with little progress. I often use music (without lyrics) to drown out distractions, simplify the amount of messages going to my brain, allowing me to pay attention to one task at a time. I usually do this when the "background noise level" is so severe I finally recognize what is happening.

    This is why I love /. Summaries for the weak minded and highly-distracted, like me!

  • Data Information (Score:3, Interesting)

    by blair1q (305137) on Friday August 13, 2010 @06:16PM (#33247052) Journal

    Or is that Information Data?

    Whichever, Schmidt has it wrong.

    We're producing reams of data. Its information content is probably log(log(O)) as great as its data content, since log(O) is pretty much how information and data relate in the first place, and we're keeping what seems like exponentially more data than we would have thought to save in the pre-nearly-free-storage days.

  • Global Warming (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SnarfQuest (469614)

    So this explains why the Global Warming groups hide their data/programs.

  • Priorities (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Friday August 13, 2010 @06:20PM (#33247086)

    Who's got time for a victim in Afghanistan or end-of-life issues with all these Tweets coming in?

    What a shame. Shouldn't it be the other way around? Tweets are twaddle.

    Perhaps we're all easily distracted - or need to be distracted. Perhaps wars half a world away or end-of-life issues are too sad, distant or abstract, to be a priority for thought, but they are there and they are real.

    As I've mentioned before: I know the world simply disappeared for me when my wife was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in November 2005. All I could see and hear was her for the next seven weeks until she died in my arms. Twenty years together and a simple headache changed the course of two lives forever. Now I have trouble seeing or hearing anything. The future is gone and my star shines no more.

  • See subject.
  • See my comments in this thread here: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1746980&cid=33177866 [slashdot.org] in the article on the CIA developer going open source. One point I make is that the USA spends literally billions of dollars on developing ways for people in the intelligence community to make sense of a deluge of information; why should such tools not be FOSS and available to every person to help think through complex issues and improve their local community? See also Doug Engelbart's aspirations for Augment.

  • wrong metric (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Surt (22457) on Friday August 13, 2010 @07:23PM (#33247602) Homepage Journal

    We RECORD more information. Information has been produced in rough proportion to the population at pretty much the same rate as ever.

  • To be fair... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by darkwing_bmf (178021) on Friday August 13, 2010 @07:29PM (#33247650)
    We probably spend more time thinking about victims in Afghanistan than we did before we had the Internet.
  • 60-70 years ago, who heard of Afghanistan? Who heard about a victim in a city one state away, let alone had time for victims in the same city?
  • by rcamans (252182) on Friday August 13, 2010 @09:45PM (#33248432)

    We do not create much information each day. Information is actually useful stuff.
    What we create tons of each day is useless data and distractions from reality.
    Tons of BS and actual anti-information (lies and errors).
    Tons of anti-data.
    Tons of anti-reality.

    Like for instance the title of this thread...

    or most anything else on slashdot...

    • by rcamans (252182)

      The best example of anti-information currently available is of course from our federal government, courtesy of wikileaks. Yes, I am talking about the afgan war documents. And the feds were feeding that crap to themselves.
      Yum yum

  • I really focus on very few things only.........

  • > every two days we create as much information as we did from the beginning of civilization through 2003

    Bollocks. We create none; information is ordered matter and/or energy. It can only be transformed. We may be making more of it more readily accessible to ourselves, but it was energy before that, matter before that, etc. If we created information directly there'd be less problem with carbon dioxide now and Google wouldn't be planning an arctic climate data center just for the cold air. And don't bother

  • I have ADHD you insensitive clods.

    Okay seriously, because of that condition, reading that article just made me think "No shit, sherlock". Because I get that on a much smaller scale, so it felt pretty obvious to me ;)

  • I experience this often: if you go looking for information on a procedure, like tethering a smart phone, you find not one reputable source with all the answers, but hundreds or thousands of competing similar answers.

    Each of these misses some vital piece of the information, but has the rest.

    It's like life needs an editor or an ego to take in all this great information, filter out the crap and fix the errors, and produce one definitive solution.

    Instead we have informational chaos.

  • "It's not because my mind is made up that I don't want you to confuse me with any more facts.

    "It's because my mind isn't made up. I already have more facts than I can cope with.

    "So SHUT UP, do you hear me? SHUT UP!"

    The Shockwave Rider [vxheavens.com] by John Brunner

  • Bus accidents (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Sqreater (895148)
    I haven't heard about any bus accidents in India lately. Have they stopped driving buses in India? I'm concerned about the current lack of such information coming out of India.
  • As presented, Eric would be being a bit obtuse.

    In that period, we produce more data-- largely because Google and others record it.

    Whether we should call a 100-fold increase in the amount of data we store about the moons of Saturn, "information," is another debate.

    It is, however, "not the same thing" as the information produced, say, pre-2000.

    Schmidt knows this.

    At the same time, we have more information in the sense that more of the world's libraries and publications are more easily accessible to ea

  • In other news, the sky is blue*, fire is hot and the earth is round.

    *on earth from earth.

It appears that PL/I (and its dialects) is, or will be, the most widely used higher level language for systems programming. -- J. Sammet

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