Friday, October 15, 2004

Information Overload

How strange it has been to go from last week which became an unintentional fast from the news and the internet to this week which has been a flood of information. Today I experienced what I would call "information overload" meaning that I was so overwhelmed with information that I couldn't think straight.

Let's face it, we can be bombarded with information if we allow it. Never has information been more abundant. I'm constantly amazed at what there is to be found on the internet. In a way it's like a scavenger hunt surfing the net to see what we can find. But how easily it slips into surfing for the sake of surfing without any specific objective that we are trying to meet. Before I know it, valuable hours have been wasted that could have been better spent on other things.

Don't get me wrong, I think there is value to the internet. There is also value in following the news and staying informed on the events of the day. However, it has become more critical than ever to carefully choose what sources we seek information from especially given the recent missteps in the MSM.

So what do I consider my reliable sources? Where should I be going for information? Most importantly, how do I balance my need to be informed with the demands that my job, my wife, my children, my church, and most importantly my walk with God place upon my time? Time is a precious commodity that cannot afford to be wasted.

First, I have to recognize the limited amount of time I have available to seek out news and information. There are many blogs out there, for instance, that update numerous times during the day. There are others that post maybe only once or twice a day. Which do I choose? Which news sources can I trust to provide reliable information? Which sources do I know share my worldview which is shaped by my faith? Which sources am I likely to disagree with but at least will make me think through my positions?

As far as news is concerned, the best site I have found is NewsMax. It tends to focus on real news rather than gossip. As an e-mail alert subscriber I get top stories delivered to my e-mail account that I can read at my leisure and still feel current on events.

For commentary, I recommend Townhall which provides an e-mail summary daily of conservative commentary and The Federalist which has an e-mail summary three times a week of key political happenings.

As far as blogs are concerned, Hugh Hewitt posts frequently but not so much that I can't keep up. Plus, he's on top of what's happening in the blogosphere and will link to key commentaries. Neal Boortz has a great daily blog that also serves as his program notes. His Reading Assignments at the end of the blog are a great summary of important news articles and editorials.

For Christian commentary, I go to Mark Roberts and Evangelical Outpost. Mark seems to focus more on issues facing the church while Evangelical Outpost will tackle a variety of issues.

In the wake of my overload syndrome, I've also decided it's best not to overdo it on talk radio. Again, the internet provides amazing access to talk radio programs and there have been days where I've had it going all day. That also seems to be feeding my overload. So, I am going to have to narrow it down to one program that I will listen to and even at that I won't listen every day. For me, the logical choice is Hugh Hewitt's show. First, Hugh is a Christian and conservative so I know that he has a similar religious worldview as well as political worldview to my own. But probably the biggest reason I would choose his show is the ability to listen anytime I want. His Los Angeles affiliate, KRLA, has an online archive which allows you to listen to the latest show on demand. That helps me a lot to know I don't have to worry about meeting the show's schedule and can listen in whenever I want to.

It's important to be informed. It's more important to seek truth. In the tidal wave of information that washes over us daily that truth is sometimes hard to find. It comes down to knowing where to look for it. But the one place that we can always find truth is in God's word, the Bible. And it is there that we need to be first before we go anywhere else.