Managing information overload

Trust me, there are plenty of days in which I use my access to the Internet very “stupidly.”

I watch funny cat videos, take a look at the most recent viral videos, read nonsense celebrity gossip, and “browser shop” for things I definitely can’t afford.  In reality, I really ought to check out my RSS feeds in Feedly and do some research on the ecommerce industry or read digital marketing tips for work.  I really ought to be reading the news to see what’s going on in the world.  I really should be using the Internet smarter, but some days I just don’t want to.

I think part of this may be due to the fact that I often feel overwhelmed at the amount of quality and interesting information that is available on the Internet.  I want to know everything and the fact that there are so many different ways for me to access “everything” at once is overwhelming to me.  I feel like I can’t keep up with all the information and so instead I take a few minutes or hours to ignore the world’s most powerful knowledge tool in exchange for entertainment and killing brain cells.

Rheingold’s book, Net Smart, is making me rethink my approach to the Internet.  I need to be more focused on what I am doing because I often get sucked into the depths of YouTube while I have an important deadline looming in the near future.  I am interested in many things and I can often get caught in a web of interesting and useful information just as quickly as I can get caught up in a windfall of Internet stupidity.  Rheingold offers some excellent pointers for effectively managing this endless amount of information.  Chapter 6 of his book, “How (Using) the Web (Mindfully) Can Make you Smarter,” brings all of his information management and “crap detection” tips and tricks together and explains how his methods can help you widen your own personal knowledge base.

Rheingold’s book has helped me to stop being so overhwlemed about how I approach the amount of information on the Internet and has taught me different ways I can manage and even filter the amount of information that I see every day.  By doing this I can use the Internet smarter and more effectively instead of being tempted by the cyber black holes of funny cat videos.

Posted on October 26, 2014, in Blogs, Digital, Social Media, Society, Technology and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Your comment that you are interested in many things and get “caught in a web” (pun appreciated) speaks to my experiences as well with the Internet. Sometimes I catch myself in a frenzy to see all the information online, and in doing so, I end up not seeing anything at all. But what do we do? It’s like Rheingold says, “It’s up to you to make the effort” (p. 253).

  2. I love the honesty in this post and glad that Rheingold is helping you focus! If you visit, you’ll see he’s such a cool guy. I always like his points about paying attention, but also see this video for more on crap detection:

  3. Reading Rheingold was an introduction to a wealth of knowledge. Like you said, he has taught you how to manage and filter information that you see everyday. But without a purpose or a goal, will you not be back to funny cat videos? Insert any video in the cat’s place, but if it makes you happy, won’t you eventually be back to enjoying videos sooner than later. If the only purpose to deviate from your current “entertainment viewing” is because you are supposed to, what will keep you on your new path?

    • I agree. I’ve been outlining some Internet goals for myself and have been coming up with ways to filter my social media profiles to see information that is relevant to me instead of the useless chitter chatter that my feeds are usually full of.

  4. Don’t be so hard on yourself. When it comes to entertainment or your personal life, I think it’s perfectly fine to randomly surf the Web. Sure, you probably don’t want to be watching YouTube videos if you have a tight deadline, but sometimes it helps to take a break.

    Besides, who doesn’t like a good business cat laugh?

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