Information Overload

Learn by finding the differences, not the similarities.

By Mathias Verraes
Published on 27 June 2014

You are reading this on an Information Overload Device. Probably one that fits in your bag or even your pocket. You also have a large Information Overload Device in your living room, and there’s a bunch of others spread across your home, your office, and your environment.

Information Overload

The way humans deals with information overload, is to scan quickly, and put everything in buckets. We find the similarities with ideas we already know, and then categorize it under the same name. It’s a database that stores entire documents? Oh, then it’s a document database, like the document database I already know about. It has small iterations? It’s an agile methodology like Scrum. It uses the language of the business? It’s like BDD. You get the picture. Categorizing information is often a necessary strategy.

We do so much of the “scan, bucket, repeat”-cycles, that we forget to actually process interesting information. My method is simply this:

  • Be alert;
  • If you catch yourself looking for similarities, stop;
  • Ask: What is different about this? What inspired the author of this information to make a different thing, give it a different name, choose this method over the other method?

The divergence, the conflicts, the raison d’être’s, that is where the learning happens.

(Post intentionally kept short to prevent information overload).