5 Ways to Get Control Of The Information Deluge!

Way back in 1971 a very wise man wrote:  “In an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else, … 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.”

The man who wrote this is Herbert Simon, in his article “ Designing Organizations for an Information-Rich World.” An accomplished gent, he was known as one of the founding fathers of artificial intelligence, information processing, decision-making, attention economics, and quite a few other business and information concepts that have come to change and define the world. In fact, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for economics in 1978.

He is indeed a fascinating man, but my point here is not to discuss his life. Rather, his comment above REALLY resonates with me as I wrestle with making profound and purposeful use of this information aggregate in front of me right now – the Internet.

Yes, I was be-bopping back in those classic 60s and 70s when Simon wrote, which now makes me a Prime-Time Boomer!

I purport that people of all ages and ilk face a challenge in effectively managing the myriad information we face each day.  But might those of us who lay claim to Boom-hood  and have one foot in the world of Flower Power and the other in the Garden of Digital Overload struggle even more?  Do you sometimes feel sucked dry? Or spun into a frenzy? Or completely out of control?

Here are 5 things you can do to get a handle on information, to be in control of it, not it be in control of you!

  1. Keep the focus on yourself:  A wise phrase borrowed from self-help groups, and instrumental in keeping your priorities on what matters to you, not someone else!
  2. Reflect and ponder: Forget technology. Forget social networking. Forget email. Think about the things in life that matter to you, that interest you. Get a handle on your interests, your hobbies, your LIFE!
  3. What do you want from your interests? Simply put – what is your purpose: to research? To learn how to do something? To write? To communicate with like-minded souls?
  4. “Google-it”: Of course there are other search engines, but this is the standard term used for Internet searching. Example: You are interested in learning how to make potato pancakes. Try googling “Video potato pancakes,” to see how to make them, or “Forum potato recipes” to talk with other people who want to make them, or just plain “potato pancake recipes.” Now you’ll have exactly the type of information you want about your subject.
  5. Experiment: The important thing is you’ve identified your passions and you’re beginning to make the Internet work for you instead of against you. Try some different search terms  to see what comes up in one that may not come up in another. Set up some bookmarks for sites that you really like. Subscribe to sites to get automatic updates.

At this point you have a focus on those things that interest you! You have ammunition to get the pounding information elephant off your back and into your viewfinder. Now, you have the secret to controlling information instead of having it control you.

What’s Your Social Media Style?

What’s your social style? And I don’t mean relative to the office cocktail party or neighborhood barbecue. Nowadays, we must all be concerned with our “social media style.” Whether we like it or not, social and business engagement, discourse, networking, book clubs, support groups, and everything that involves what we’ve always known as social interaction is now occurring online.

I admit it, I am of the Boomer generation. But I was a lucky Boomer because I entered a technical field (photofinishing) and worked with the very first computers. I setup and balanced digital printers, I helped fix customer QC problems using a then revolutionary computerized photo system. I developed document on Wang word processors. Anyway, you get the gist.

So, technology came naturally and easy to me – until …

I’ve been struggling with how to become socially adept because right now, I am a social media clod. I have Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and several social bookmarking sites. But I’m all over the map and, to say the least, ineffective with it from both personal and professional standpoints. This, then, has led to frustration (lots).

Frustration tends to make people ugly and angry, and this is where I’ve been, until I started having conversations – offline – and reading – real books, but still about developing a social media style. Right now, I’m still in rags, but I am on an odyssey to develop a purposeful and productive style of my own.

Here are two things I recommend for you if you’d like to know more about this.

9 People Who Have Influenced My Social Media Style”:

Net Smart: How to Thrive Online, by Howard Rheingold,

Perfect Pen or Holy Grail?

It all depends on the paper – how the pen works, that is. This realization comes from many years and many journeys in search of the “perfect pen.” For me, this odyssey is the search for my personal Holy Grail – that ever elusive thing that promises health, wealth and happiness (and eternal salvation)!

In truth – I have no illusions about health and wealth unless a gliding pen serves as a secondary sort of salve. Makes sense, right? Health as a side effect from the glee of finding and using that pen; wealth from the bestselling novel that follows!

In truth, my lust is about simpler stuff. I search for that perfectly balanced, correctly weighted, optimal tip and a “smooth-as-butter” ink flow that writes “first time every time!” In addition, this, the ultimate recorder of text, must magically transform my unreadable, ugly script into something  beautiful and swan-like. All of this for less than $50.

Does such an instrument exist? No. Well  …. Sort of, and here’s why my equivocation. After many sweaty treks through the hottest days of summer and slippery slogs on the snowiest days of winter, I finally arrived at the answer. And this is it: it’s not just the pen. It’s the symbiotic relationship between pen and paper that makes the magic.

For example – I recently purchased two really wonderful pens – one a Levenger, the other a Lamy – both fountain pens. I then bought a notebook at Staples to use as my journal. I then sat down for a long writing session with my new pens and my new notebook only to be thwarted with tremendous disappointment. First one, and then the other, fountain pen bled right through the paper – seeping through to the other side as well as yielding veritable ink blots  that cut a far bigger swath of spreading ink than I intended.

Back to the original question: is there such an instrument? I have my top  10 favs, but the pen du jour is a shifting sand that balances precariously on paper, type of pen, my coffee consumption, and purpose in writing. In other words, I think I might have better luck seeking the Holy Grail!