Information Overload

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Last updated on February 5th, 2024 at 02:15 pm

Life was simpler before we gained this obsession with knowing EVERYTHING.

Somewhere along the line, we overdid it. It’s human nature to satisfy our curiosity. We learn more through our own personal experiences than we do from reading, watching or being told something by someone else. These are all parts of maturing, forearming ourselves with the knowledge that will help us along in this adventure called life.

Then, we had encyclopedias.

To the younger generation—before the Internet was the behemoth it is today (and webpages were gaudy mashups of blinking fluorescent colours, random animated GIFs and scrolling text), we used massive sets of textbook-sized tomes called encyclopedias to get our information.

That aside, even then, the limits of the things we’d learn about were between the hardbound covers of these multi-volume sets. You’d look a topic up, take notes of the item you were researching, and maybe look at other books to learn more.

But the Internet—when it got big, popular and high-speed to match our shiny, new cable connections—somewhere it blurred the line between pertinent information and filler. Fluff. The stuff you write in last-minute papers to distract from the fact that you really had no point in the first place.

We must know EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING and we need to know it NOW.

I took Wednesday off sick from work, totally congested from a bug I’d felt coming on the night before. After catching up on some (what turned out to be much-needed) sleep, I spent several hours scanning in the massive piles of magazine clippings I’ve accumulated, to be used in an upcoming project. After I’ve scanned and sorted through all of these, cataloguing them away oh-so-carefully, it’ll be my goal to learn all the secrets held in these pages.

Do I need to know what’s in all the clippings that I’ve accumulated? Probably not. I can’t guarantee that my life will be any different for having learned everything in there. But I like to think that I’m on the quest to gain additional information for the same reason that everyone else does it in their own way:

To gain a better understanding of the world around us.

This is the thing we strive for but rarely attain. My job, for instance, is to take the world of I&IT and explain it to executives in such a way that it holds value to them, giving them the assurance that they’re approving projects that won’t be financial sinkholes. But time and time again, my clients who I work with to produce the necessary documentation give me too much information, in such a way that the brain can’t properly absorb it all. I convert text to tables. I demand visual timelines instead of lists. I want 100+ page documents to be distilled down to the essence of the story, easily digested and a third of the original size.

Isn’t this what we all yearn for in a way? To have the secrets of the world around us unlocked so that we truly understand what’s going on? Why person X would go for person Y instead of you? Why people choose the coffee from the shop around the corner when the one across the street is cheaper and arguably tastes the same? Everything’s interconnected, but the strings are often so faint and there’s so many of them that we find it hard to figure out the story.

The story I’m crafting is a very specific one, and when I release it into the wild, I want to make sure that I’ve thought of all the angles. But until then, all I have is a bunch of pages, tied loosely together by strings I cannot yet see.

But, tomorrow is another day, and we all craft our own stories. One page at a time.

The second logo for Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad



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