Saturday, July 13, 2013

Avoiding Information Overload

Have you ever searched for some information on a topic you wanted to learn and become frozen when you see the sheer amount of information that pops up? This happens to everyone. If you are one of those people, like me, who play videogames from time to time, then you could probably relate this feeling to when you are attempting to character build in an RPG. It just becomes a question of what the best path to take or the best path to learn is. I have been there. Everyone has been there. Luckily for us, the solution is rather simple.

The first thing that you need to do is relax. If you get stressed out about choices, like I do, this could be the most difficult step. Just relax. Take things one step at a time. What, exactly, are you trying to learn about? Whatever it is, the best place to begin would probably be Wikipedia, rather than Google. Why is that, you may ask. The answer is simple: A Wikipedia article is going to be a good general overview of a topic and it will help you determine how you should be utilize Google for further searching.

The second thing you should do is start your actual search. Usually, when I am trying to avoid information overload, I start with Wikipedia. On Wikipedia, I will find the general article on the topic that I am trying to research. From there, I am able to determine two things: whether there is a need for more research and what direction that research will need to take. So, depending on the answers to those two questions, I will know what I need to do. If further research is required, I will have very likely narrowed my topic. If I find that, upon searching for my now narrowed topic, I am still getting lost when I run a search, I repeat the process.

A general tip that I can offer is to ignore forums. If you are unfamiliar with forums, and they pop up in your search results, ignore them. For those who are unfamiliar with a topic, forum results can very easily take you off track or provide you with misinformation (due to forum members posting incorrect information, or because the topic is being misunderstood by the person searching). This is nothing against forums, I just find that they can very easily throw information at you that seems applicable but is actually very wrong.

 Information overload is something that is becoming more and more commonplace given all of the various sources of information that we all have at our disposal. This is both a good and a bad thing. If someone is well versed in the best methods of researching, this information can be a boon. If someone is not used to it, however, it can become very difficult to get the information that they are looking for simply because of all of the choices that they have to make.

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