Dave, given the breadth of your knowledge, how do you keep up? Do you experience “learning overload?” What does it feel like for you, and how does it affect you and your business? What do you do about it and how do you counter it?
If I had a per-question charge, you’d have a bonus fee associated with your set of questions. But, fortunately, I don’t. 🙂
You ask an important question, because I’m in the same boat as any other information professional, trying to stem the ever-rising tide of information, the tsunami of knowledge that I’m supposed to assimilate spontaneously. Oh, and have a life too.
In general, I’d have to say that my strategy
is to try and improve the breadth to my knowledge, rather than the depth of any specific topic. I like to compare
wizards and gurus in this light, where a wizard is someone who can fix
something, but can’t necessarily tell you how or why. A guru, by contrast,
can’t necessarily fix something, but knows who to ask or where to go for the
answer. I consider myself much more of a guru.
Right now, for example, I’m in the middle of reading a bunch of magazines (Business Week, Wired, Independent School, Kappan), stealing time to read the superb Missiles of October about John F. Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis, and listening to a series of lectures on The Rise and Fall of Soviet Communism: A History of 20th Century Russia.
In terms of specific technologies, I’m more interested in who I know who is
an expert in the tech than in knowing it myself, so I try to reserve my
neurons for learning *what’s worth doing* and figure I can always either
slog through building things with my existing toolkit or identify the right
person to make something really rock ‘n roll.
That said, I spend lots of non-work time doing other stuff, including
writing (which I view as more fun than work), teaching at the local
University, playing with my kids, photography, reading
non-fiction (history, usually) books, and going for long walks.
I can’t speak for anyone else, of course, but my personal goal as an entrepreneur isn’t to have the brightest flame in the
firmament, but to be able to have the flexibility to have the life and
lifestyle I want, which, oddly enough, involves doing interesting projects,
but not “working”, per se. If I wanted 40-50 hours of doing things that
weren’t fun, gosh, I’d get a real job with a local company. 🙂
How about you? Since you asked the question, can you share a bit about how you deal with learning or information overload?
Hi Dave, Hi Amy, Hi Everyone,
Information overload is a serious issue we face in the information age. There’s no lack of good information around but there’s also ABUNDANCE of junk information!
Before we make a choice to purchase any information, (may it be a book, ebook, video, magazine, etc), we must always ask ourselves, “Is this necessary to help me get to where I want to go?” or “Will this information help me solve a current problem?”
Another thing to do before we make a choice to purchase any information, we read the reviews of others. Beware of those “canned” reviews, those which are extremely short & not informative. They add no value no nobody.
Look out for those reviews written with the consumer in mind, those that elaborate both the good & bad points. This kind of reviews help you make a better choice.
We should only absorb information selectively. This will help us save a lot more time & will also help us stay focused on our business.
I’m speaking in terms of an information entrepreneur, if you’re just like me or you’ve got lots of information to sort out, this message is for you.
You raise a good point over in your weblog, Amy. It’s really endemic, particularly to entrepreneurs, I think. After all, if your brain is constantly spinning, it’s somewhat inevitable that you keep popping off ideas or areas where you feel like a little bit more knowledge would produce great insight.
Dave, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts in this posting. I’ll fess up publicly here, I was the person who posed this question. I appreciate you taking the time to answer.
I understand what you mean about being a guru rather than a wizard. My own work tends to focus on being a guru as well. However, that’s not where I encounter learning overload. There are some things that I want or need to be able to do for myself, not simply be aware of or communicate about. So I encounter the frustration of learning overload when I look at my backlog of skills to acquire or enhance.
I just wrote about this in my blog CONTENTIOUS: http://blog.contentious.com/archives/2004/12/21/learning-overload-how-do-you-cope
I quoted your article there. Let me know what you think.
– Amy Gahran
How do you avoid Information Overload?
Dave, given the breadth of your knowledge, how do you keep up? Do you experience “learning overload?” What does it feel like for you, and how does it affect you and your business? What do you do about it and…