The Other Part to Consuming Information

on Apr 10, 2010

We’re fortunate to live in the information age. Not only do we access to news and blogs and such, but there’s also formal learning such as online video lectures. Access to learning is especially accessible because many of usĀ carry the internet in our pockets with app phones. But the argument is made that we’re suffering from information overload. There’s the constant stream of news feeds, be it articles or other updates. I propose an idea that brings agreement to these conflicting issues.

Basically, there’s two parts to leaning. The first part we know very well: consuming information. The second part is less obvious: processing and reflecting upon the information. An easier way to understand this idea is to compare it to the two parts of training your body, where the first part is the physical activity itself and the other part is the recovery. Just as the body needs to repair itself and reconfigure muscles to work better for the activity in the future, the mind needs to reflect upon new information and fit it with all existing knowledge to bring an overall deeper understanding of something.

So just consuming information doesn’t result in learning. New information must be mindfully considered. The scientific process occurs and information is tested against all previous knowledge and experience. Bad information is thrown out. Perhaps old knowledge is tweaked or looked upon in a whole new light. We all know this process – it’s that moment of clarity that emerges when we relax into deep thought (why does this always happen in the shower?).

So while we are blessed with the incredible technology of having information at hand at all times, we should be mindful in how we consume it. That is, we’re best off consuming as much as we can so long as we can maintain the opportunity to reflect upon and think about it.