Getting Smarter Without Doing Anything

Is this a joke? Surprisingly, it’s not.

At first thought it seems to be an unbreakable rule that in order to expand our knowledge, we need to take in (“consume”) new information. Unfortunately, finding relevant information and consuming it takes time and effort – especially in today’s world of information overload this can be quite tedious.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we did not have to consume any information and still expand our knowledge as shown in the following picture, therefore sidestepping information overload?

Expanding knowledge - tedious by nature?

Believe it or not, but there is a way to achieve this. The secret lies in reliable alert services that only inform you if a specific happening has occurred, therefore also telling you something if they keep quiet (so that you know nothing has happened).

One example: you subscribe to an alert service that notifies you if a US tennis player wins a tournament on the ATP tour. If you haven’t received an alert for the last two months and somebody asks you about it, you could tell him that in the last 2 months no US player has won a tournament – without actively following the tennis results.

In other words, you have increased your knowledge over time without having had to consume any information. The beauty of reliable alert services is that they don’t just provide value when they inform you but also if they keep quiet.

Many examples can be found where such alert services would be very useful. The problem today, however, is that it’s not easy to find those alert services. Or very often, they do not exist at all., a soon-to-be-launched web service, will provide a platform for users to subscribe to a wide range of alert services free of charge and also setup new ones. You can preregister if you want to be informed upon launch.

3 thoughts on “Getting Smarter Without Doing Anything

  1. I appreciate your provocative stance – intriguing. I think the hard part is evaluating a piece of information (no matter what the source) to estimate its value to ourselves. And that evaluation must take place. The second part is integrating the information into our existing set of knowledge, i.e., “learning.” This also takes work, even more, in fact.

    So there are no short-cuts. Yes it helps to have intelligent filters (e.g., a highly trusted blog), but as information sources skyrocket this becomes harder. My own pet peeve: Once-a-day blog posts. *Nothing* is so important that it should be written about daily, unless it’s an emergency. Even (especially!) news. Try this experiment: Stop listening and reading all news (tv, radio, web) for one week. Then assess what you missed. My experience: Nada. If it was important, you’d have heard of it from friends or family.

    > You can preregister if you want to be informed upon launch.

    Well I’ll certainly know something if the product is never launched ;-)

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