Why Too Much Information Can Leave You Less Informed


Friday, 7.58pm

Sheffield, U.K.

Data is not information, information is not knowledge, knowledge is not understanding, understanding is not wisdom. – Clifford Stoll

Day 2 of reading a real newspaper and I have suddenly become conscious of how little I really know about what matters. I think the big difference is in going through a news report that has gone through an editing process, rather than something that’s just pulled together by anyone.

The Internet is full of material – and it makes it much easier to get information but it also makes it much harder to know what’s good and what’s not. Perhaps more importantly, it doesn’t tell you whether something has been investigated sufficiently before someone has written a piece on it. But with a newspaper you kind of expect that some of that work has been done.

I think there’s a fundamental thing that we’ve started to forget in the age we live in. There’s always something new, there’s the next thing, there’s the update. We have to change all the time. It’s part of the deal. I tried to use one of our Apple phones from a few years ago and it’s pretty much useless without upgrades which you can’t get because the OS is out of date or something on those lines.

I’m a sucker for devices but I haven’t bought my own Apple product for around five years now and I don’t think I will again. It’s a waste and it’s only when you stop using it that you realise that these devices are not designed to help you live better lives – they’re designed to consume your time, so you live on them instead.

Not all devices are like that, of course. I have a Raspberry Pi 400 that I bought – well, for no good reason, other than it’s pretty. But it sits here and I use it as my reading machine. And it’s going to work and keep working for as long as the hardware does its thing.

Ah yes, that thing we forget. Stuff that’s been around for a long time has probably stayed around because it’s good. If you turn off the newest thing and try something old instead you might discover a completely different point of view – one that helps you understand things better.

That doesn’t mean turning off technology – but it’s perhaps switching from whatever hot new social media thing is on to reading on the Open Library.

We’re in a golden age where we can access almost anything. The choice is endless.

You must be discerning.


Karthik Suresh

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