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Paper high, morale low

By on April 20, 2011No Comment

This is a story with a moral.  The story comes from 15 years ago, when we were still using paper for a lot of information; but the moral remains valid in this age of email and other electronic channels.
I was studying Artificial Neural Networks as part of my work at Intel at the time, and my friends would helpfully send me a photocopy of any article related to this field that they came across in their reading. I had a growing pile of such articles on my desk, which I hoped to read one day when I could find the time. After all, they were articles in my field of interest, so I felt compelled to read them.

Life and work being what they are, I never found the time, and the pile of papers kept growing higher, This made my eventual task more and more daunting, and my morale went down as the papers accumulated.
Then one day I had a wonderful idea (I only wished it had occurred to me earlier). I dumped the whole pile in the trashcan. The load was gone, my desk was clear, and I felt great. Of course this meant that I’d miss out on all this wonderful knowledge when the day arrived that I’d have the time toread it… but I simply made up my mind that when that day came I would get the latest and best book in the world about Neural Networks and read it instead. By definition this would be a better use of my time than reading randomly selected articles. Needless to say, the day hasn’t arrived…

The moral is clear: hoarding information for future consumption is a poor choice. Information is not in short supply these days; when you have that day of unplanned free time, you will be able to find all the information you need to fill it up. Meanwhile, the act of hoarding pushed information that you never asked for adds to the oppressive feeling of Information Overload. Better push back on the Pushed info and consume what you need in Pull mode!

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