Information Overload: an Update

Awhile back, I wrote a post about information overload. Specifically, I was referring to the incredible amount of knowledge placed at our fingertips via articles from an almost innumerable amount of sources. I was eager to find a digital solution to streamline the process of finding and reading articles online, and came up with a solution in which I rated the articles I read on a scale of one to five. The highest-rated articles would go into Evernote for safekeeping, and I would write a summary of them at my leisure. By writing the summary, I was more likely to retain the information I deemed worthy of being remembered. The experiment has gone remarkably well, and I’d like to share the results.

First, the rating system was too complicated. Instead of rating an article’s importance on  a scale of one to five, I now simply give it a “yes” or “no.” A “yes” means it goes into the vault (read: Evernote), and a “no” means it’s not worth retaining. This forces me to be dramatically more selective in the information I save, which is the point, in the end. I have a finite amount of time in the world, and only the best should be worthy of my time.

As far as the reading process itself, those articles that I don’t find it necessary to retain still get a brief moment to roll around in my brain. After each article, I simply pause and breathe for a few seconds. I realized that I was going directly from one article to another without even so much as a pause, treating the collection of articles as exactly that... a collection (I wonder if this is a symptom restricted to the “Instapaper Method” of reading, where all of your articles are presented in such a back-to-back format). Instead, each article is its own entity, worthy of at least a moment of reflection after being read. By adding a simple pause, I allow the information in each article to marinate a bit before being engulfed. It’s truly amazing how many of life’s questions can be answered with a few simple breaths.

Those articles that I would like to save, of course, end up in Evernote, and as it turns out, I now have a collection of the most wonderful writings that tend to help me form my opinion of my reality at any given moment in time- a personal treasure of the most delicious prose, which I find myself occasionally opening to dig around in. I can’t help but liken this to the old Disney cartoon- Scrooge McDuck doing the backstroke in his pile of money. The feeling, to me, is the same. This collection truly is a treasure, because words are what I truly adore. With this method, I’ve finally found a way to give those words the respect they deserve.

Incidentally, if you’re interested, I’ve made this collection of mine public. You can browse my treasure trove, broken down into the following categories (summaries not included):

I hope you enjoy them as much as I have. Happy reading.