Sunday, August 16, 2009


I probably shouldn't admit this, but I remember sitting in my AIChE student member meeting for Chemical Engineering students, where the President was trying to get us to sign up to use this thing called the World Wide Web. It was supposed to provide us with a wealth of information and this thing was going to be H-U-G-E. Our response? Yeah, right.

Fast forward, uh, a few years later, and here I am, commencing research, searching for information on what to consider for a potential upcoming project. And, BAM! I got a collection of opinions over here, goo-gobs of thoughts over there, slivers of ramblings to the north, and oodles of articles, databases, PDF links to the south. Makes you extend your palms outward and say, "Whoa."

We all know this by now. For whatever subject, whatever topic, there's a wealth of information, good or bad, right or wrong. With all the different search engines and through varying your keyword searches, you can tailor the information you receive. For whatever position you want to take on a topic, there's information there to back you up. Too much information.

Maybe that's okay if you're just browsing and curious. But if you're using this information for a purpose, say as research work for your book or to make a decision about something at work, too much information can actually work against you, turn your argument upside down, and send your credibility into a nosedive.

The key is to filter through the information and find credible sources. Consider the author, their background, their credentials, etc. Depending on the topic, this can be a job within itself. It takes time to wade through the oceans of information available to us. However, if you value the integrity of your work and your credibility, you will make the commitment to verify information and carve out the time necessary to do so.

And "a-sifting I will go...a-sifting I will go..."