A Sticky Wicket
You have a dirty mind… but it’s not entirely your fault. We are constantly bombarded with information from multiple channels. Much of this “information” is noise and redundancy. These emissions (or garbage information) sometimes pollute our minds, and make it difficult to efficiently run our communities, both online and away from screen (AFS – keyboards not necessary). It can be tricky to filter this content, and as a result, our minds can become cluttered, or “dirty”.
At the Community Leadership Summit (CLS) 2014, Randall Ross gave a plenary talk called “Get Your Face Off the Screen,” in which he described effective ways of growing your community AFS. This is a great way to reduce garbage information on the input side. i.e. by cutting of distractions. Perhaps a truly smart phone could help us do this as well. However, I have become increasingly interested in reducing things from the output end—personal emissions of garbage information (GI). Coincidentally, this thought was inspired by Randall’s Planet Awesome idea.
I have spent over two years pondering this issue. I re-wrote this article twice (this being the 3rd edition), and have learned that the problem is within myself and my habits. So, the question is: can we filter ourselves without the risk of stifling genius and innovation? Perhaps I have already answered my own question.
Just because something is free, as in freedom, and free, as in beer, it does not mean that it is free, as in no opportunity cost. Everything that we do takes away from something else that we could be doing. Every piece of information that our brain has to process, takes the place of another at that time. This is important to recognize in an Ubuntu circle because the philosophy shows that what we do to ourselves affects the others, and what we do to others, in turn, affects ourselves.
So then why is it that we continue to pollute our environments with GI?
“That’s just the way I am.”
One theory is that it’s because we still can’t stop doing things our favourite way. Some types of people need to (for lack of better understanding) think out loud and constantly emote, and sort out the pieces later. This is sometimes done without the consideration of the externalities that it produces.
“If they don’t get it from me, then they will get it from someone else.”
Another theory would be that we feel insecure about ourselves, and have a scarcity mindset. Thanks to patent laws and professional sports, many of us feel the need to be “first.” We feel the need to provide and prove that we know something of value (which in turn makes us feel valuable). Our consumption-driven society demands information now—not after you have thought about it for a couple of years
“Yes, I would like to Supersize that.”
Maybe more information is better. Some people think so. How else will the monkeys on the typewriters eventually write the work of Shakespeare?
A Slippery Ewok
It is apparent that this discussion brings up more questions than it does answers. But, as long as we are questioning, then we are at least we know of the issues. And, knowing is half the battle.
Does every comment warrant a reply? Does every action require an explanation? Do I need to provide a commentary on everything in the circle? Do all the people in our circle need to know? Do I need to write a blog post about a blog post? Am I actually providing value, or a new view on a topic, or am I just creating more redundancy, and GI for people to wade through? There is a difference between creating and excreting.
Again, it is a battle of environmental awareness and self-awareness.
If you are physically larger/taller than most of the people in your circle, then it is important that you are self-aware. You would realize that every movement that you make is much more noticeable than that of a smaller person. The same is true on the internet. If you have a bigger presence/personality, then you have even more viewership. The goal would be two-fold: provide the best of you for your circle, and make sure that you’re not obstructing the necessary little guys in the process. The vehicle towards the goal could indeed be reduction of GI.
So the answer to discovering genius is not about more information; it’s about better information. We don’t need a smarter search engine. We need a smarter/faster recycling bin—inside and outside of our heads—to sort the treasure from the trash.
Tee Ell Semi-Colon Dee Arr
Man will sin. The world will end. The internet (and your mind) will get dirty. But, why make it worse while we have to live here? Inevitability is not futility.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Sure. But, when it comes to information, we ought to consider (if nothing else) what impact our production of information has on our connections.
That is just it: our ability to connect to people so easily should not be so that we can sell ourselves faster, but rather, it should be used such that we can stop reinventing the wheel and more efficiently manage our resources—our information.
The irony and cliché are relentless, but the application is the best that money can’t buy:
Let’s reduce, reuse, and recycle our information.