Information Literacy Will Save You From Data Smog

What it takes to be information literate

Data overload causes stress. Photo by Kevin on Unsplash

Do you find yourself scrolling through websites or watching programs that are mentally exhausting?

The rapid growth in technology has made a lot of data readily available. Although accessing information is transforming individuals and economies, research shows that data overabundance causes stress and is counterproductive. So, how do technology users ensure that they have just what is essential for better performance and output?

David Shenk, the writer who coined the term data smog, suggests that every consumer should be their own ‘smart agent.’ As a data boss, you should be skillful in sifting information through information literacy. A good learner determines, locates, evaluates, and applies the right knowledge.

1. Recognize what you need

It is a noisy world, and everyone shouts louder to be heard, intruding personal privacy. You get data slapped onto your face wherever you turn even without asking for it. Shut out needless voices by using specific information to solve your problems. Start by analyzing your needs and narrowing down to what technology is right for that situation. For instance, if you have a health issue, identify it by the name or symptoms. Resist random scrolling for content that is appealing to the eye but not addressing your plight.

2. Search for the info

Most people get their data from the internet, the TV, other people, or from multiple sources. Identify the most appropriate channels for your needs.

Internet: Search engines such as Google crawl websites for keywords. You get overwhelming results from a single search. Strategic and concise methods of locating the content save you time and emotional strain. Using more words gets you more specific results than with short phrases.

TV: If the television is your source, familiarize with the programming and switch on the TV for the particular show.

3. Evaluate the sources

A suitable medium informs without burdening your memory. There are tons of blogs and websites churning information on a daily basis. Some of them are tactical to rank high on search engines without giving value. Analyze your sources before retrieving information. Understand the motive behind websites. Promotional pages are likely to provide skewed details for marketing needs. Ask “does the informer understand the subject thoroughly?”

If you are looking for medical information, for instance, it might be useful to locate websites owned by health professionals. Google Scholar is better for academic purposes compared to the regular sites. Once you find authoritative sources for information that you need regularly, save them for later reference.

4. Apply the info effectively

The last stage of information literacy is the application. It is unhelpful to retrieve data that you will not use. When applying the information, you must go back to the first step of identifying your needs. Incorporating data into your knowledge base helps your brain to store the content for longer and increase your productivity. If you need large volumes of information, choose to consume and apply small chunks over an extended period. Remember that you are solely responsible for how you use the gathered data; understand the implications.

Are you ready to be a ‘smart agent’?

Any form of freedom comes with a responsibility. Take control of your mental health, cut clutter, and increase your output by becoming information literate.

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