Are you a collector?

By | 2021-01-19

One of the things we’re often told when researching is to cast a wide net, gather as much information as you can. We have tools out there that help us clip and save everything we see and think is even remotely interesting.

And then all that information just sits.

At least that’s what happens a lot of the time. It’s not something we plan, we intend to go back and read those articles, use the screen captures for reference, unfortunately they’re buried somewhere and we never get back to them.

It’s called the collector’s fallacy, we think we’re acquiring knowledge, but we’re just collecting things. We think because the amount of data we have is growing we’re building our knowledge base, that we have information of value that we can use in the future, unfortunately that’s not what we have. Instead we have a collection of articles that just gathers dust and not a growing garden of knowledge.

If you want to grow a garden of knowledge you need to not just collect the information, you need to act on it. Read the material as you collect it, don’t save it for later. Take notes on the material, in your own words, you need to interact with the material, not just sit on it.

Working with the material helps to interalize it so that you can then use it for other purposes, writing, creating a videos, or even debating the topic with a friend or relative.

So, the next time you think about clipping an article, take an extra moment and think about why you’re clipping it. If it’s just for the sake of adding it to a collection then maybe pass on it. If it’s so you can add to your knowledge of a topic, and you have the time to read through and digest it – go for it.

Building your knowledge and understanding, don’t just be a collector.

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