Info Avalanche: Finding our way from clutter to clarity

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<div style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 10pt; color: black;">Getting enough email? Miracle diets, qualified sales leads, "herbal Viagara," impassioned pleas for assistance with complex overseas bank transfers...</span></div>
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<div style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 10pt; color: black;">It's easy to cull through that stuff pretty quickly. But it's the rest of the information gushing at us torrentially that can be difficult to deal with.</span></div>
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<div style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 10pt; color: black;">We live in an age of information. Lots and lots of information. Coming at us from all directions -- email, text messages, Web sites, wikis, podcasts, blogs, vlogs, social networking sites, not to mention traditional media like TV, radio, movies, newspapers and magazines.</span></div>
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<div style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 10pt; color: black;">At a time when you can literally know more about anything -- from what laptop to buy, to what's happening in the equatorial rainforest, to government regulation of new pharmaceuticals -- the problem is finding the knowledge you need within all that information.</span></div>
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<div style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 10pt; color: black;">How do you find the one needle in a million haystacks? And when you find that nugget of knowledge you've been looking for, how do you know it's trustworthy? Who's viewpoint are you getting when you read, watch or listen to something? Because, no matter what it is, it's someone's viewpoint.</span></div>
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<div style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 10pt; color: black;">Some keys to clearing the clutter and cutting to clarity:</span></div>
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<div style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 10pt; color: black;">-- <strong>Go to the source:</strong> One of the great benefits of the Internet is you don't have to take anyone's word for anything anymore -- you can go straight to the source. Someone&nbsp;blogs that a government report makes a certain conclusion? Go read the report -- or at least the introduction and conclusions. The news media report that a public official made a particular statement -- check YouTube or another video-sharing site for an unedited version of the politico's remarks. Someone says a product is safe or unsafe? Go take a look at what the CPSC or the EPA has to say about it.</span></div>
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<div style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 10pt; color: black;">-- <strong>Listen to opposing viewpoints:</strong> Read, watch and listen to sources on all sides of topic, including those that stand opposite your own viewpoint.</span><span style="font-size: 10pt; color: black;">And participate in the discussion on blogs, online forums, Facebook and JustMeans</span></div>
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<div style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 10pt; color: black;">-- <strong>Read the resume:</strong> Check the track record and provenance of your sources to see how well they do over time. A commentator may make a particularly persuasive argument, but if he has an established record of botching his facts or slanting his conclusions to his own viewpoint, you may wish to view his comments with some skepticism.</span></div>
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<div style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 10pt; color: black;">-- <strong>History matters:</strong> We live in an "</span><span style="font-size: 10pt; color: black;">OMG</span><span style="font-size: 10pt; color: black;">!" culture, where every issue is portrayed at its extremes. Everything today is viewed as either the greatest thing since canned beer or the worst thing since the Black Plague -- usually, neither is the case. Read the history of a topic and try to place today's events and developments in a historical context. </span></div>
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<div style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 10pt; color: black;">While it takes time and effort to get to the facts, the alternative is to risk being</span><span style="font-size: 10pt; color: black;">misinformed by greenwashing, false claims and spin.</span></div>