Literate, But Unaware

"I don't have time to read blogs" said several people in their posts to a recent listserver conversation.

"I don't have time to read newspapers" say workshop participants when I ask them if they follow the news.

We are poised to become a nation of people able to read, but unaware of the world around us because we fail to do so.

I get it. I, too, am busy, and browsing the mounds of information coming at me from so many sources requires a strategy and a skillset I am still developing.

So what's the fix for the information-avoidance virus that is spreading? Here are a few potential antidotes:

  • Our educational institutions and our professional associations need to help us develop the information management skills we need, as well as determine the attention allocation strategy that meets our personal and professional goals. I've yet to attend a conference including an extended workshop or read a great article that did a really good job of this.
  • We increasingly need trusted sources of accurate information. Journalists working in both old and new media need to take their credibility more seriously if they want to be one of our preferred sources for information. Our professional organizations must better scan and filter the masses, identifying the most relevant sources and pieces of information to highlight for members.
  • We must better edit our own work, crafting the most meaningful communications in the most concise manner. Content must be evaluated for its attention-worthiness: Is this the most important information and have extraneous elements and words been ruthlessly edited out? Is it written in the most user-friendly and compelling fashion? Do the design and layout enhance readability and usefulness?
  • Much like an investment club, individuals should collaborate with others and use their shared interests and diverse information sources to collectively become more informed. A monthly lunch or coffee can be a great forum for individuals to share highlights from the various sources of information they attend to regularly.
Regardless, not paying attention seems like a strategy destined to leave one less equipped to make important choices and contributions.

Remember, ignore is just a few letters away from ignorance.