Too Much Information (TMI)

There’s danger in consuming too much information. I’m sure you know what happens when you eat too much food. Like food, information needs digestion. It’s only useful to the degree you can distill it into actions, habits, and wisdom.

Dallin H. Oaks gave a good talk on focus and priorities:

We have thousands of times more available information than Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln. Yet which of us would think ourselves a thousand times more educated or more serviceable to our fellowmen than they? The sublime quality of what these two men gave to us—including the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address—was not attributable to their great resources of information, for their libraries were comparatively small by our standards. Theirs was the wise and inspired use of a limited amount of information.

I know where to get my information binge if I want it. (Thank you, RSS.) I’m sure you do too. The challenge is to consume less of it and use it more wisely.

I wonder what Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln would do in our shoes.

3 thoughts on “Too Much Information (TMI)”

  1. I have been thinking about this a lot lately and it has actually gotten me to clear out a lot of RSS feeds that i don’t read that often or just don’t need. I do have a problem of finding myself thinking, “oh that looks cool i want to read about it later” and so i’ll ‘tag’ it and i don’t know how often i go back looking at those things… Like a library you collect books but never read them… kind of sad… I need to be better at that.
  2. I’ve been to Thomas Jefferson’s home and seen his library. The man had a lot of books! He also wrote a lot of letters, and made copies of them with an ingenious gadget that linked two quill pens together so that as he wrote with one, a copy would be made with the other.

    Although we probably spend more time taking in information, what we lack is quality and, as you say, reflection time. In a way, though, blogging has reintroduced correspondence to our intellectual activities. They could be (and sometimes are) used like Jefferson’s letters. If we spent some time studying and reflecting on the sort of books that Jefferson did, however, I’m sure our blogs would become far more enlightening to ourselves and others.

  3. Richard,

    You bring this point home. The truth of the matter is it is hard to live in our world and not consume too much information. I can not drive down the street without being bombarded by signs telling me this and that. Same in a store or public place. We do have control over how much of this information we choose to consume, however, it can certainly be a challenge.

    I appreciate your thoughtful post however. It makes sense. Good question, what would Jefferson or Lincoln do?

Comments are closed.