May 26, 2010
Sort of a bulletpoint braindump thinking aloud, to be returned to: general thesis – that in an information age, what becomes vital is how we filter information.
There is too much information. We cannot possibly attend to everything that is happening. Nor should we want to.
Most available information is irrelevant to us.
How are we to know what is relevant or irrelevant?
For this we both need an internal sense of what is relevant to us, and external means of filtering what is relevant from what is not relevant.
Most important of these is the internal sense of what is relevant. Do you know who you are and what you are doing? Where you are and where you are going and why? And do you know therefore what it is you need to know, and what you need to pay attention to?
Because until you have this internal sense, how can you possibly navigate the flood of information? There is no way to know what is relevant. And there is no shortage of information clamouring for attention.
We do not currently know how to filter our information. This is true both in the sense that we do not know how to physically filter the information coming in, and in the sense that we do not know what we most need to know.
A feature of information that needs to be balanced here: If we knew it already it would not be information – the fact of being unknown is what gives it its value – but how are we to discern what we don’t know is worth becoming aware of?
Even though we are not aware of how to filter, we must of necessity already be filtering. We are ignoring most of reality in order to focus on whatever it is we are doing. The corollary then is we don’t know what we are doing when we filter information – it is sort of random. This seems non ideal.
We need to become aware of our existing filters, our existing mechanisms to deal with reality, and how we can adapt them to meet our actual needs.