I think that bitcoins are a big deal. Maybe not this year or next year, but within the next five to ten years, I believe that there's a good chance that they will revolutionize online financial transactions. So I bought some a few months back with the intention of holding them for many years, selling only once each one was worth thousands of dollars.
And yet... I was obsessed with the ticker price of a bitcoin. I had a plugin for Chrome that always showed the current price at the top of the window. On my phone I had a widget to see the price at all times. For weeks, I was never more than a few dozen minutes out of date with the price.
Eventually it occurred to me that I was never going to do anything with the knowledge of the current bitcoin price. If it actually did rise to the level at which I'd be willing to sell, I'd certainly hear about it through other people. So I cut myself off. No more tickers, no more checking the price. My little stash of bitcoins remains encrypted and backed up, and I'll check the price in a couple years.
The amount of access to information that we have is extraordinary. We're so used to it that it's hard to think of it in historical perspective, but we literally have easy access to millions of times more information than people had just fifty years ago. Acquiring this knowledge feels valuable, but often really isn't.
Most smart people I know don't read the news. Why? Because it's full of information that is not actionable. You are probably not going to change the course of politics, the economy, or crime. You're probably not going to change your own life with the information, either. If there's any information in those categories that even approaches being actionable, someone will tell you about it.
It's a good idea to limit the amount of information you take in that you can't act on, but be liberal with what you allow. I know that there's zero chance I'll sell bitcoins until they're worth thousands, so I don't check that information. But I do read books on a variety of subjects because I believe that the parallels I draw from them may affect how I act. Cutting out information I definitely won't use affords me the luxury of time to learn about things that I might use.
Photo is from the Bellagio indoor garden, which is one of my favorite things in Vegas. Another favorite is the tea room at the Mandarin Oriental.
Speaking of Bitcoin, have you seen the graph for LTC in the past day? MtGox made a FB announcement that they'll likely add LTC in July, and there's fast growth. I'm happily in at the beginning. Maybe check it out for a short investment.
Totally, I agree. I'm all about the "low information diet", personally have cut out following the news and low quality, non-actionable information sources.
Yet, I always still find out about the big things in the news, such as the Boston Marathon Bombing, etc...others troll through the news and are more than happy to let me know about the important things as they happen.
Lately, I've been trying to focus on acquiring information that is immediately actionable to my situation, that way the retention rate is way higher. I find that when I read through lots of info, even if it's good, if I don't put it into practice I tend to forget it much easier :)
I like your idea of learning info that you can use in actions right away! I think acting on info help me remember it better. Two other related methods I have found help me are teaching the info to others and using spaced repitition software like Ankiweb/Ankidroid. I found the latter helps with language learning but I have seen decks for other subjects too.
I used to think it's really important for us to read newspaper because I was taught that responsible citizen's read newspaper. It's only irresponsible people who don't read news.
However, with time, I've figured out that reading newspaper is one of the useless things that we do in our day to day life. We think of it as something good but it really isn't good at all. It's been almost 2 years I haven't read any newspaper or watched news. And I'm really glad that I did that.
As you said, if there's something really important then we'll hear it from others. There are lots of newspaper puppets out there. So, yes, we can spend our time learning about other important stuffs which are actionable.
And about bitcoins: I doubt it's going to be valuable after some years. Some time ago, I read this article on Forbes about why you shouldn't buy bitcoins: Four Reasons You Shouldn't Buy Bitcoins
I stopped reading newspapers, TV news and NPR in 2003. I had a big news habit of several hours per day. Not only did I save time I felt more positive without all the negative news stories. As they say in news biz: "if it bleeds it leads". If anything important to me happens I find out about it in online groups or "gasp" talk face to face with friends.
On investments I usually set a trailing stop that automatically sells them if the fall more than 25% then I don't pay attention to daily price movements. One idea I am thinking of adding is to do a quarterly (or annual?) review of all my investments and expenses. To see if I still want to own them or if original reason no longer applies. And to review recurring expenses for ones I can cancel.
I agree that Bitcoin or some other anonymous digital P2P currency will be big in future. Have you read "A Lodging of Wayfaring Men" by Paul Rosenberg? It is a great thriller/scifi novel about invention of open source encrypted digital currency and how it totally changes government, taxes and society.
I agree that information overload is a bad thing, but I wonder to what extreme you take it, and why you don't prefer to browse sites like reddit. I understand that Facebook, upon many other sites, can have a lot of useless information, but I find that getting a random sampling of some of my favorite topics (in practice, from reddit) can sometimes be informative. I happen to also schedule reddit-browsing during my daily "off" time, so I don't mind that much of the info is "junk info" as well. I know I posted a comment similar to this on another post, but I'm still not completely convinced that I can get the same amount of spontaneous information (the kind that can sometimes lead you to develop new good habits, take up new hobbies you otherwise wouldn't have heard of, etc.) in my life if I *don't* browse reddit. I suppose you do this by reading books, but each is confined to one topic, and they take longer to sift through than does the front page of a message board. Your thoughts?
I had a subscription to TIME magazine a couple of years ago. I felt smart and cultivated reading it, and it certainly helped me write more interesting things in Geopolitics classes or English essays. But I stopped the subscription and stopped consuming news, for the exact same reasons you mention. I don't even have the time to do 10% of the things I want to do in life, so my advice is: stop consuming things that have no direct value or use to you !
I tend to be an info addict and I really relate to what you posted. I need less info and more action.
First off, let me say this: BOOM! I got Tynan.com! YES!!
Okay. So back when I was in high school, I had the idea that maybe this internet thing was going to work out, and I might want to own Tynan.com. I put www.networksolutions.com into trusty old Internet Explorer 3.0, searched for tynan.com, saw that the domain was available, and then balked at the $70 price for two years.
I'll just get it later, I thought.
If I weren't so passionate about the ways that mobile devices are changing the world, I'd be spending my time in one of the following three areas: Crypto currencies like Bitcoin, the commercialization of drones, and the rise of 3D printing.
Oh, time is so our enemy. Even a long-lived life only amounts to 750,000 hours or so. And as per my recent keynote at the 2013 Mobile Outlook on a "Framework for Stupid Ideas," one of my guiding principles is to "focus on focus" to maximize the value of each of those hours. Since mobile is my deepest passion, I'm not willing to dedicate the time to dive into any of these other things.
Another of my framework points is to play in a "space that matters." And these three spaces really, really matter -- that much will be obvious to everyone in the span of a few years. So I'm hoping that some other entrepreneur will be as passionate about one of these three spaces as I am about mobile. I figured I'd present a few highlights from each of them to showcase why they're such a big deal.