Tuesday, 19 April 2005

Knowing When to Log Off

via Stephen Downes' OLDaily.

Stephen correctly pointed out that switching off from the Internet is not a good strategy.

Seasoned Internet veterans know that this just makes information overload worse, because the information doesn't stop piling up just because you've logged off. The key (in my mind) is to stop treating information like a thing, stop treating it as though it were a pile of required reading, but to sample and filter and redirect, to taste and digest and manipulate as needed.

I envy Stephen's ability to filter through evidently huge amount of information daily to bring us the gems.

As I read the article myself, I feel that some of the people out there seem to want to dig their heads in the sand and assume that the world will stop and wait for them. I agree that we need quality time to reflect and reason. I also feel that creativity and innovation are stimulated when I see new ideas (or new application of ideas). If I always read the same person, I can basically predict what I am reading. If I read messages or articles in new domains, I may find application for my own area of interest. Then stop, reflect, try, experiment, further research, talk to peers and make incremental innovations.

Reflecting on my own past, my first significant "invention" is the local area network for Apple ][ computers using its game port. Several different "domains" of knowledge were pulled together. Earlier that year, I heard a presentation about the ISO layer network architecture. Being a Physics student and teacher, I had electronic and digital logic training. I played games on Apple ][ and had experience using the game port as an interface with school Physics experiments for my students (again, that was something I read about from the Scotland Physics projects). At that time, I was fascinated by the CPU designs, OS design, computer algorithms and so on. I also knew how to extend the Basic in Applesoft.

All these seemingly diverse interest pulled together and with the help of four of my brilliant students, we managed to create a local area network connecting those Apple ][ I had at my school laboratory using our own cable and connectors, network software and server software.

Yes, in the 80's, information overload was not as serious as today. Stephen's suggestion, together with a sense of knowing when to stop and encourage in serious thinking, will be a pre-requisite for survival in the new information era.

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