NASE Blogs

Overcoming Overload Through Classification

Monday, September 29, 2014
By Jeff Davidson, MBA, CMC (NASE Guest Blog Post)
breathingspace.com

You do your best as a self-employed professional, but some days you are simply swamped by too much competing for your attention. When a flood of items compete for your attention, each item can loom larger in importance than it actually is. Here is a classification system to help you maintain perspective:

Classifying Communication

Bits: The lowest level of input, bits are single packets of information indicating yes or no, on or off.  In combination, bits add up to data. 

Data: The raw numbers in chart form, equations, lists, and prose. Ideally it is objective, readily observable, and easily understood. Data, however, can represent something that's true, untrue, or gobbledygook. Data can certainly be manipulated, and often is. From a scientific standpoint, data represents a simple yes or no choice.

Information: The arrangement of data  conveyed via analysis, interpretation, and reporting. The genetic code of all living things is information. From a cosmic perspective, information is communication that populates our world, be it in the form of music, written words, painting, sculpture, or for that matter, money. Information, however, is not synonymous with meaning. Articles and documents that you encounter yield information from an imperfect author who has drawn upon data or observable phenomena, made conclusions, and offered commentary. 

Knowledge: Information, added to experience, viewed with reflection, and used to draw conclusions, can lead to knowledge. The invention of one technology often helps to expand knowledge in other realms. For example, the development of the telegraph helped us to understand that, like messages carried over the wire, our nerves carry messages. Knowledgeable people in your profession tend to read considerably, develop original thoughts, and then postulate from what they have ingested. Gleaning knowledge from others can make one more knowledgeable.

Wisdom: Wisdom becomes possible when new knowledge and is added to one's existing knowledge, and is as true for societies as for individuals. Wisdom often comes slowly, following years of accumulated knowledge. In an age when too much information confronts each of us, wisdom often comes in the form of the ability to recognize broad based patterns and long-term trends as opposed to being caught up in short-term phenomena and worse, fads.

Drawing Upon Accumulated Knowledge and Wisdom
If everyone is being besieged by information, the most prosperous among us will be those who are able to discern the direction in which society and markets are heading. As you increasingly draw upon your accumulated knowledge and the wisdom that you develop, you will be less buffeted from ever accelerating flows of information.

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