How to abstain from saving too much

S. Downes has a great advice for a personal information management problem that is one of my worst ones (see “obstacles” in my #50): Saving and storing too much information, more than can reasonably be organized. In his presentation on effective learning, in its major section on relevance (slide 15), he says

“filter ruthlessly – if you don’t need it now, delete it (it will be online somewhere should you need it later)”.

Indeed, I often had the suspicion that I would never use the saved file but find it again on the web perhaps faster than in my own folders.

Similarly on slide 17, he gives a recommendation for remembering:

“Don’t worry about remembering, worry about repeated exposure to good information”.

The pleasurable redundancy of this repeated exposure is something that I observed soon after starting to read blogs. Important memes mostly show up again. The effect of the recurring wisdom was it that made the triage in blog reading easier for me (see my #72) .

But I am not (yet?) ready to follow Stephen’s advice here. When I was reading it, I felt a bit inconsequent but immediately pasted it into a small text file “remember.txt” – worrying that I might forget it. I think, such valuable thoughts are still not so abundantly available that we may forget our hoarding attitude that we inherited from our info hunter-gatherer past to save scarce food for chewing later.

BTW, another thought of his article on the same subject of effective e-learning, “Answer the question, … don’t explain.” made me chew so hard that I still haven’t completely digested it.

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