“People don’t want more information, they want the minimum information they need to understand a topic.”

(Matt Thompson quoted
on Twitter
I Googled Matt
and found this quote,
“Time to stop breaking the news and start
fixing it.”
What I learned from his sites: Time is just one way to
measure news, and newspapers lose to electronic media if timeliness is
the standard. However, another perspective for news is context or
usefulness. Imagine if that was the standard. It might save or, better
yet, transform the news industry. Maybe that is already starting.
thinking about many things that are affected by technology.

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That is an interesting observation, kind of the counter to “information overload.” I have to wonder what “understand a topic” means though. Is it simply to make an informed decision in the here and now, or is it to be able to see the pros and cons, the “forest for the trees” kind of thing…the bigger picture?

Dick Davies

Hi Gwynne!

Good question.

I think the “bigger picture” changes with time, so all we can hope for is what we need now.

Does that make sense?

Elif Müftüoğlu

I believe we also need a new way to filter information… I’ve read that by the time a university student graduates, the information he learned on his first and second years became useless… so how do we get the right information in the specific time period? If everything is changing so fast, how can we know which minimum information is the best to understand the topic? We need an automated filter

Dick Davies

Hi Elif! Wow, this is really getting some great comments! Thank you!

Here’s my take. We are currently going through a shift, much like the Renaissance. New skills give new capabilities. Old skills are less useful. A person’s library used to be a sign of learning. The Kindle collapses that. Now the ability to find the knowledge required to achieve a result is more important than knowing it. Doc Searles and Chris Dawson write that kids should build and maintain a wikipedia page instead of writing a paper that is subjectively scored by one teacher. Aligning with new technology is both awful and awesome.


The Kindle also makes it difficult to discern what a person is learning. It currently doesn’t come with a digital external screen that displays what the person is reading. I don’t remember where I read this, but it was an interesting observation, that people make assumptions or judgments of people on a train, a bus or at the airport, based on the cover of the book they are reading. But the Kindle makes that impossible. Even glancing over the shoulder, it is hard to tell what the person is reading.

I agree with Elif on being able to filter information, but I think that is something that is learned. Take writing as an example. To be a good writer, you have to read a lot of bad stuff. Reading the bad stuff helps you filter for the good, which in turn helps you become a better writer.