Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Think About Searching, #6

We live in an information environment - that is, the level and type of text, images, media, etc. available to us each day.  The books on "information seeking" and decision making are pointing to a new dynamic.  As one of the pioneers in information theory, Herbert Simon, pointed out long ago, "a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention."  With too much information at our fingertips, we tend to drown in the volume and not pay attention to the important.  We need to turn on and turn off the flow.

I like what one writer about decision making said should be the sequence.  Ask ourselves and others to: 1. tell me what you know; then 2. tell me what you don't know; and finally 3. tell me what you think.  Having access to the flow does not make us experts.  If we are awash in data and get anxious without the radio, tv, internet, blogs, twitter messages running -- then our brain's capacity is exceeded.  Extra information can lead to worse decisions.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Think About Searching, #5

How we decide should depend on what we are deciding.  How we search should depend on what we are searching.  One approach or one starting point will not work with every type of decision or search.  We can trust our emotional / intuitive side to make decisions, yes; but it takes effort.  Our emotions are deeply empirical and can do a good job at distilling past experiences.  But trusting one's emotional thoughts requires a constant vigilance - that is, intelligent intuition is a result of deliberate practice.  So is intuitive searching.  Knowing where to search, how much time and effort to expend, and knowing when you have found the answer is a practiced and artful skill.  Take it on!  It will be richly rewarding.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Think About Searching, #4

Making mistakes may be the best thing that can happen to you when you search.  The brain research that has been done shows that the brain learns through errors.  We should allow ourselves and our students to make mistakes.  If we try many different combinations of search terms (trial and error), then we'll come upon the right ones.  The most effective way to get better is to focus on our mistakes.  It seems that unless we face the unpleasant feeling of being wrong (admitting we're wrong, more likely), then our minds cannot learn.  As Carol Dweck, the educator, says: "the crucial ingredient of a successful education is the ability to learn from mistakes."

Monday, February 20, 2012

Search Word Trends

New way to find out what people are searching for over time.  So if you want to know when people search for "working out" and "losing weight" you put in those two and find, of course, that right after the holidays people are searching for ways to join gyms and the lose those pounds.

Try http://www.google.com/trends/correlate/   You can actually put in your own raw data series and see what else maps to the same patterns.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Visualizing Information, pt.2

Here are some other sites along the same line -- how to visualize the data you have.

  1. Try the BBC's site that explains what this is and how to do it.  Go to the Data Art blog:  http://www.data-art.net/.
  2. How to display ideas:   http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/a-taxonomy-of-ideas/ 
  3. Tinderbox - great way to take and display notes.  Go to http://www.eastgate.com/Tinderbox/ 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Visualizing Information

This has been an interesting topic for me for a long time.  In the earliest ventures to popularize the ways to visualize data or information, Edward Tufte, Yale University statistion, wrote a book called, "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information," (1983) and then "Envisioning Information" (1990).   We'll this stirred many an imagination and now we have sites, such as www.informationisbeautiful.net.  This site does a wonderful job at showing how we can find & learn the complex answer to a question with a single, clever graphic.  Try this page, that answers the question: "How much caffeine do I have each day?"  It displays the various kinds of drink by caffeine and sugar levels.  Wonderful.

see http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/caffeine-and-calories/

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Google's Ad Preferences Manager

Another important site - Google -- also has a tool that tracks your interests and allows you to give feedback on preferences.  Know as the "ad preferences manager" it is at www.google.com/ads/preferences.  It allows you to see what it's tracking tool has inferred about who you are and what you like.  The settings allow you to change items in the list, such as which ads you will get and which categories they have put you in.  You can also  opt out.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Facebook Timeline

Important new shift in how Facebook treats your activities - integrating them all and cleverly arranging it all along a timeline.  Besides Google Reader, this could be a major change in how you use Facebook for yourself and your friends.  In fact, it can become a tool to visually see the media you consume.

Yes, you should consider how you use websites, RSS, downloads, photos, and the like as consuming.  It certainly consumes your time and reflects your priorities.  It certainly reflects your interests and your perspectives.  Information literacy and media literacy, as concepts, are certainly important to me in helping others Find & Learn with great efficiency and reward.  Try the Time magazine article and link www.time.com/timeline to see a short video and read the tips they have about the new Facebook Timeline.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Think About Searching, #3

Each mind contains two different thinking systems or activity centers.  One is SLOW or rational. We think in a linear fashion when using this capability.  We are more deliberate - "let's carefully consider..."  The other system, which we less often give credit to, is QUICK.  It is the emotional and effortless capability - when we see or hear something and "we just know" what to do.  What has been suggested is that we THINK about our THOUGHTS -- yes, to observe how we are making the decision.  We may "jump to conclusions" when we need to consider the facts.  Think about how you are reacting to a story on the news about an issue - is it being slanted by a particular view?  Check the facts.  Are we reacting emotionally to an issue that is really just a straightforward fact?