Wish: Being Well-Informed O: Need a system

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Wish: Being Well-Informed O: Need a system

Postby Arwen Undomiel » Sun Feb 11, 2018 7:23 am

I can't tell you how much this frustrates me, but until I have a system, I feel so blocked. Things like where I should file something -- an article I found or a reflection I have written on the article, or different kind of reflection, or a quotation from an article, or questions that emerge from the reflection, or questions that emerge out of reading an article -- every single one of these steps in acquiring general knowledge, stops me on my tracks and prevents me from making progress and seeing the results I want.

I still manage to make some progress, but the amount of frustration that I have does not allow me to make progress that I would be happy with. The need to find a system that works is essential for me in general. This is the reason why I absolutely LOVED Barbara Sher's Wishcraft. Her idea of backwards planning and turning obstacles into targets have been really life-saving! But I cannot sort this obstacle out for my wish to be well-informed. I find myself starting to read an article in the New York Times, or what have you, and start digging into something mentioned in the article in order to understand the background, and I end up spending so much time just one that one piece without getting where I want to be.

I manage to read about something obscure or something super basic which is good and many times essential to have as background information, but I never get to the point where I can comfortably express an opinion in a conversation among smart people. Please help!!! This has plagued me for about a decade and I just cannot let it linger any more.

Being well-informed for me means knowing the current topics, the issues that surround them, and various opinions on the spectrum. How do I start? Where do I start from?

If you can recommend books or an approach, please do!
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Re: Wish: Being Well-Informed O: Need a system

Postby Elaine Glimme » Sun Feb 11, 2018 1:31 pm

There's "Getting Organized" by Stephanie Winston. The book pre-dates the Internet, but it might help. I struggle with organization. I hope someone else on the Boards will comment on your wish.

Also - I do'n't know if this helps or not, but maybe your conversation is valid, even if you don't know absolutely everything on the subject. If you're talking to people who are ready to pounce on any mistake you make, this could be risky, but if you're talking to friends, or basically kind people, it's probably okay if you don't know everything about your subject. There's so much information that no one knows everything.
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Re: Wish: Being Well-Informed O: Need a system

Postby Arwen Undomiel » Sun Feb 11, 2018 4:18 pm

Thanks for the recommendation. I just got the Kindle version of the book and am looking forward to reading it.

As for my wish: I do not really want to trounce someone's argument. I just want to be able to show that I am informed and am be able to say something coherent on a current topic, which the people who surround me are able to do. This wish must be obtainable, but 'how' is the million dollar question for me.
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Re: Wish: Being Well-Informed O: Need a system

Postby Elaine Glimme » Tue Feb 13, 2018 6:18 am

I meant that if you are talking to other people who are ready to trounce your argument, it's more of a risk to speak out.

Either way, being well-informed is a great goal. Congratulations.
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Re: Wish: Being Well-Informed O: Need a system

Postby Jason » Fri Feb 16, 2018 2:49 pm

I've had a problem similar to this, and found that all the articles and information I saved and thought I needed weren't really necessary after all.

So a folder, or box (sometimes a large box) of articles with post-it notes on them could be tidied away and not seen for a year, and only when they're rediscovered do I realize how unnecessary it was to keep them. I had not thought about them, looked for them, and most importantly - I never needed them.

There is more information flowing at us at a greater pace than ever, and it's impossible (and stressful) to take it all in - and in hopes of retaining it - organizing it.

The same goes for books. I have hundreds that I'll likely never have the time to read thoroughly, so I've become much more selective (and realistic) when adding another book.

This has frustrated you for a decade. That's a long time to be frustrated over something that in the grand scheme of things, doesn't mean much.

I'd suggest narrowing your focus...drastically, so that you're and expert on a single subject or two - the ones you personally connect to and love the most. And realize it's okay to only know a snippet of information about the infinite number of topics that no one can ever gain mastery over.

This frustrating search for the retention of vast general knowledge seems to be primarily others-focused. It's always stressful trying to impress/please the rest of the world, and no matter how much you try or how great a system you develop, there's still no guarantee that anyone will be impressed. And they certainly won't know or be able to appreciate the incredible effort you put into it either way.

By having expert (or at least much greater than average) knowledge on one or two subjects, you'll find others seeking your insights and opinions rather than you spending all of your time keeping and organizing in hopes of someday seeking their approval.

Best wishes.
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Re: Wish: Being Well-Informed O: Need a system

Postby SquarePeg » Sat Feb 17, 2018 4:22 pm

I agree with Jason's response completely.

I'd just like to add that the more I learn about something, the less I feel I know because I get a greater understanding of its complexity. So I think it's the folks who are most opinionated, in general, who know the least about the subject.

Also, the more topical an article is, the less accurate (again, IMO). Breaking news is mostly conjecture and biased by the political leanings of the news outlet. For example, the "email-gate story" painted Hillary Clinton as a sneaky, conniving actor when, in fact, in depth reporting later revealed that it was all the result of incompetence. She didn't / wouldn't use a desktop computer to read email; she insisted on using only her personal blackberry (and an older model, to boot) rather than carry an additional newer model issued by the State Department. And the people she entrusted with backing up her data and moving the server were not qualified to handle the job. Do I sound like I'm informed? If this makes you feel envious, then do what I do and listen to NPR news as much as possible.

I'm not sure what you expect a system to do for you, though. Do you plan to take notes and review them on a monthly basis? If so, you might create a blog. You don't have to make it public, though -- it can be for your own use only. Copy the content of an online news article and a link to it in a "post". Include any thoughts you have on the article. Give it meaningful tags so that you can look up the topic later.

Good luck!
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Re: Wish: Being Well-Informed O: Need a system

Postby SquarePeg » Sat Feb 17, 2018 4:28 pm

Also, in the scenario where you're conversing with someone who seems very informed, ask them where they got that information. The person might be making it up, or stating opinion, or might've heard it from someone else. In which case they could be misinformed.

Edit 2018-02-15:39 GMT:
Changed from "they're" to they could be.
Last edited by SquarePeg on Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:40 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Wish: Being Well-Informed O: Need a system

Postby Tituba » Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:20 pm

Being well-informed for me means knowing the current topics, the issues that surround them, and various opinions on the spectrum. How do I start? Where do I start from?


I think first you have to define WHAT you want to be informed about? Environment? Animals? Gun control? Food? Opinions are like noses, everyone has one.

If the answer is you want to be informed about everything, you are setting yourself up for a unattainable goal. No one on this Earth is well informed about everything. Most everyone scans the headlines and read what resonates with them (either political leaning, empathy, curiosity). If that subject interests enough, they may take the additional steps of focusing on it reading everything they can and maybe taking a class. Scholars spend entire lifetimes diving into a subject.

Some people have the capacity to do deep study on multiple subjects and, therefore, are walking encyclopedias. Most people have a fleeting grasp of many subjects and appear to be well informed. When, in fact, they just recycle what is in the media/online and parrot it back.

If you desire to become an expert, first decide what it is you really have a deep desire to learn. Don't compare your bank of knowledge with another person. Their knowledge/information is not a reflection of who you are.
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Re: Wish: Being Well-Informed O: Need a system

Postby Elaine Glimme » Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:03 pm

Yes, to everything everyone here has said. Scott Adams (Dilbert creator) says the same thing - none of us know everything. He's an engineer. He tells the story of ranting about his stupid pager that didn't work, and the sloppy technology that produced it. His intern opened the battery compartment, turned the batteries right side up, and the pager worked perfectly.
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