Note to Self

Infomagical Challenge 3: Magical Brain

February 2, 201611 min
This is Challenge Three of Note to Self's Infomagical project. To learn more and sign up, visit If you want to hear how it's going for the thousands of other people participating, our hashtag is #infomagical. Yes, we do see the irony.  Here's a link to our custom emoji. No, you didn't read it. No, you haven't seen it. No, you somehow managed to miss that one.Let's practice: "I was spending my time doing something else." Your instructions: Today, you will avoid clicking on something "everyone is talking about" unless it contributes to your information goal. This might be trending topic or a "must read" or whichever article or video or .GIF everyone in your world is sharing. You've got a strict rule in place: "If this does not make me [insert your Infomagical week goal here], I won't click." Even the woman who discovered the most memorable meme of all time (argue the point, we dare you) knows that she needs to take a break sometimes.   (Just in case you'd found a really comfortable rock to hide under.)  BuzzFeed "I definitely feel information overload," says Cates Holderness, BuzzFeed's Tumblr editor. "It's both emotionally draining and psychologically stimulating in a really unsettling combination." However, today's challenge extends beyond memes. It's also an excuse to purge your reading list, rewatch a classic instead of an Oscar nominee, and just skip opening all of those tabs. You don’t need to read every think piece, or follow every Trump hashtag, or share every Bernie factoid – if your information goal isn't "be 100 percent up to date on the election," maybe you can be content with knowing the results and brushing up on the issues that matter to you. If it starts to feel itchy, remember: Endless information does not make you better informed. According to historian Ann Blair, author of "Too Much To Know: Managing Scholarly Information Before the Modern Age," this is a lesson literate people have struggled to learn since the advent of the printed word. Blair says our ambivalence would sound familiar to scholars in the thirteenth century. People felt both grateful for the new wealth of information at their fingertips, and so overwhelmed that they started creating cheat-sheets, "best of lists," and signing their letters "in haste."  The settled-upon solution hundreds of years ago was to exercise a faculty called "judgment." Back then, it meant the best Latin scholars didn't copy everything out of Aristotle, they only chose the bits that meant the most for what they were working on. Today, Blair thinks the trick might be exactly the same: decide what you're doing, commit to it, and make choices. Listen above for more. And judge away! Adapted from Ammi Philips' Girl in Red Dress with Cat and Dog. (Note to Self/Wikimedia Commons)   May the force be with you. (Note to Self/ Really. (Note To Self)    P.S. The Lenny Letter Manoush mentions about endometriosis is divided up into articles here. Open only if reading 9,000 words about an under-diagnosed women's health issue fits into your goal for the week. OK, back to judging! For more Note to Self, subscribe to Note to Self on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, I Heart Radio,Overcast, Pocket Casts, or anywhere else using our RSS feed.

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