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Preventing Information Overload

Discussion in 'Technology' started by andersonnnunes, May 29, 2017.

  1. andersonnnunes

    andersonnnunes Active Member

    Maybe we could exchange tech tips and tricks on how to prevent being overloaded with information? I will go first and explain my approach.

    Automated checking and filtering are a huge time saver.

    I subscribe to RSS/Atom feeds which are checked automatically. I use a blacklist filter of strings and regex which are applied to their headlines. Sometimes I choose not to ban a word because it may be used with different meaning in another context.

    If a web-page is really interesting to me and there is not a feed for updates, I may choose to monitor it programmatically. If the page is not too polluted, it is easy to create regex filters to blacklist and whitelist sections of the page, so that I am only alerted of relevant changes.​

    I bought a few magazine subscriptions on the past. Now they don't seem so attractive, as they are always a bundle (I can't choose just the articles that I want to read) and they have lots of ads, which I dislike. There are still some magazines that I would buy if I had the money, because they have a higher quality, no ads and aren't offered as feeds.

    I avoid delegating that task of content acquisition and filtering to social media companies. Their signal to noise ratio is terrible.​

    For email:

    I am experimenting with a strategy that will make it really easy to identify who leaked my email address to a spammer and also make it easy to block it. It is similar to using disposable mail services, but totally handled by programs running on machines that I control.
    For the open web: ad blocker, always.
    Ruryse likes this.
  2. Ruryse

    Ruryse Active Member

    What if someone mistypes something, either accidentally or deliberately? Filters can easily turn into a bitch if one wants to be really careful about not missing a thing.

    I subscribe to a few channels and pages that interest me at the moment I arrive to them. Then, when an update comes, I check if it's something I want to read or watch, when I have time. If it does, I read it/watch it, if it doesn't, I delete it. If I find myself to be deleting a lot of update material from a channel or site, I re-evaluate whether I still need the subscription or not. If it's the latter, I unsubscribe. No automation needed.

    I find that the best way for me to learn stuff is to actively search for it, then allow myself to go from one thing to another if a new one linked to the previous topic occurs during the search, and if it still interests me enough to do so. I think it's closest to what's called divergent thinking.

    I have noticed that I don't get near as much learning pleasure and success from subscription updates for some reason. Probably because it was one specific thing I was interested in when I arrived to that site or channel during an active search period.

    On a side note, we had quite some discussion on divergent vs. convergent thinking, with interesting conclusions in a previous thread, starting with this post.
  3. andersonnnunes

    andersonnnunes Active Member

    I add "wrong" variations to the blacklist.

    I can see how that would happen for site-wide subscriptions. Hopefully the site has content tagged, so the user may subscribe to the feed of a specific tag.
    Ruryse likes this.
  4. Ruryse

    Ruryse Active Member

    Something tells me you have a helluva lot more subscriptions than I do, so I'm sure it makes complete sense to be fully systematic about it.
  5. andersonnnunes

    andersonnnunes Active Member

    Fresh news: Information overload makes social media a swamp of fake news (link).
  6. Ruryse

    Ruryse Active Member

    Fake news that hardly anyone reads are no big deal. It would be a false premise to assume that people are only fed with information passively, or that they never ignore what they're being fed with.

    Whatever is popular on the internet, the popularity of it is also fake, to a rather great extent. Buying video views, all kinds of blog, forum or social media posts, product accolades and who knows what else renders the whole thing into one big masturbation.
    andersonnnunes likes this.
  7. andersonnnunes

    andersonnnunes Active Member

    Masturbation is mostly harmless, on the other hand, fake popularity can have very negative economic and political effects (like the ones documented on Wikipedia's page for Sockpuppet).
    Ruryse likes this.
  8. Ruryse

    Ruryse Active Member

    Fake popularity still works, but when most of the population catches up to it being an empty fad, they'll have to invent something new. I remember a couple years ago everyone was all over "Gangnam Style", advertised as the most viewed YouTube video. Nowadays one can't sell something near as effectively by doing the same thing.

    I would think it's rather hard to do believable "industrial" sockpuppeting, one that's got serious political effect. Before the internet, they used the papers and TV for propaganda. We just have the modern version of all that with the internet.
    andersonnnunes likes this.
  9. andersonnnunes

    andersonnnunes Active Member

    Update on my approach:

    I was looking for a script to convert html pages to feeds, as that would make possible to filter pages easily with my blacklist. Found nothing native for my operating system (Windows), and this was the 4th or 5th time that I searched. Stumbled upon a PHP script for web servers which did it. By its nature, not totally compatible with my tools, but could help a bit. As it was also priced at 30+ Euros, I kept looking. Then I found a similar and free script on GitHub, also in PHP. It needed some changes to be able to run from the command line and I had to write a Bash script (running on Cygwin's emulation layer) to tie it to my tools. One day later, it is finished and working as needed. I am using it to filter threads on another XenForo, among other pages.

    I don't know if GitHub is as bad as @fschmidt says. One of the things they have which I like a lot is feeds for the change log of releases, so it is quite easy to follow updates. I don't use it and Git intensively, but, still, they have helped me quite a bit.
    Ruryse likes this.
  10. Ruryse

    Ruryse Active Member

    Posts like this keep reminding me I should have gotten into computer programming. -.-
  11. andersonnnunes

    andersonnnunes Active Member

    Well, maybe you are not missing that much. I have yet to have the desired return on investment for my education.
    Ruryse likes this.
  12. Ruryse

    Ruryse Active Member

    It's something you had talent for though, so you have gained an amount of knowledge that you can use daily.

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