Looking for Wisdom

Over on TechCrunch, Erick Schonfeld suggests it’s time to hide the noise. He is specifically talking about Twitter, of course, as the noise generator du jour. Looking back to what he wrote 18 month ago, he notes:

I need less data, not more data. I need to know what is important, and I don’t have time to sift through thousands of Tweets and Friendfeed messages and blog posts and emails and IMs a day to find the five things that I really need to know.

But while he’s on the right track, his solution misses. What he says next is:

What these services should strive to do instead is hide the noise, keep it simple.  Letting me sort through the stream by creating different groups and lists and columns of things and people I want to pay attention to is great, but it hardly solves the problem.  Finding that one great Tweet from @Loic or anyone else I follow shouldn’t be a game of Where’s Waldo.

Of course, the answer is not simply more, it is less. It’s somewhat odd in this world of more is always better, but maybe it’s time to consider that there are times when more is simply more, not better.

I’ve before referenced this snip from a poem from Edna St. Vincent Millay:

Upon this gifted age, in its dark hour,
Rains from the sky a meteoric shower
Of facts . . . they lie unquestioned, uncombined.
Wisdom enough to leech us of our ill
Is daily spun; but there exists no loom
To weave it into fabric; undefiled
Proceeds pure Science, and has her say; but still
Upon this world from the collective womb
Is spewed all day the red triumphant child.

From this I take this progression – data is central, it leads to facts, one step up the chain, then facts manipulated and considered become in the hands of smart people knowledge, and knowledge applied becomes wisdom, which is what we all seek. But the ability to sift and to seek for understanding, my question is this – are we in a place where more flow is better, or where we bury the needed facts in such a pile that our search for wisdom in hindered and not helped?

Put this way, perhaps the answer speaks aloud.

3 Responses to “Looking for Wisdom”

  1. Tom Foremski Says:

    In this context, less is more. The more we expose ourselves to the chatter and the ideas of others, the more we will be influenced by them and the less we will know ourselves. We need a balance where we can spend time away from the conversations of the outside world and time with our inner conversations.

    As a journalist I’m often asked “what do you read?” I reply that I try to read as little as possible. I want to have an original experience, I want to go to the source, I want to interview that person myself, for example, and then I want to share my experience, my analysis. If I come up with the same as everyone else, then fine, I’ll shut up. But sometimes I will come up with something different, and it’s in those differences where I can discover value, where I can show others that there’s a different story here, a different angle that highlights something that was hidden. That;s how I can create original content.

    If I read too much I am tainted by the thoughts and ideas of others. And that taints my experience and that hinders my ability to produce original ideas.

    Today we are tainted by other people’s ideas more than at any time in the history of the human race. Social media accelerates this process. People complain about the “echo chamber” well, it’s going to get worse. Yet few people have the courage to step away from Twitter, Facebook, email, SMS, and all the other digital conversations, and now also the flow of real-time. But that’s where value can be discovered — outside of that flow. There’s tremendous value in original experiences.

  2. niallhar Says:

    There is defo too much noise. But noise is what we all crave at the moment of more specifically the data within it that we think we all need. I mean do I need to know where every single one of my friends are now? Do I need to have 150 iPhone apps? It is more a case of wants rather than needs. I just wonder where all the noise will end?

  3. judy cushman Says:

    Noise is noise. It can come in any form and at any volume. We just have a shorter way to express virtually nothing of significane, endure mini-bursts of interruptions fueled by an insatiable desire not to miss anything. So are we all enablers that feed this frenzy.

    If there were less compulsion to respond and a decision to “cool down” the need for speed (e.g. I sent you a message 15-minutes ago why didn’t you Tweet me?) there might be a natural selection process that takes over. I would welcome it. Let’s have less and in the end … more (of value.) Judy Cushman

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