At the beginning of the year, the word synthesis was not front of mind. As the end of 2021 charges towards us with frightening speed, it is now foremost in my thoughts.
Why does such a thought occupy me?
As the writer for The Resolve Blog, my goal is to help people make better decisions. I’m on a constant quest to learn by both increasing— and improving the knowledge base I work with. Information overload is a hazard of the job. My problem is trying to filter the ever-increasing volume of articles, posts, videos and podcasts. This doesn’t even include the historical pieces of information I could and should be pulling from.
I spend my days consuming this overwhelming flood of information, and I know I'm drowning.
Yes, I curate what I read, bookmarking articles into Pocket, before cherry-picking the best ones into Notion for further consumption. It’s messy, slow, and left me questioning whether I’m learning or not.
A deep dive into my 2021 consumption reveals the extent of my problem.
81 podcasts, 12 books and 200 plus articles and a few videos. Then there is the ongoing feed of tweets I see every day. The terrible truth is I couldn’t name one of them, let alone share some specific knowledge I’ve distinguished from them.
I’m not alone.
My attempt at curation is nothing but a blocked filter.
A review of my notion hotlist shows a list of articles still waiting to be reread from my decision to save them for later. Yes, even this process isn’t working for me.
A moment to pause and reflect brings the following questions:
- Why is there a glut of information?
- How do I stem the tide, thus ensuring I get value from it?
- What can I do to help?
The unbundling of information
We are in a mass state of unbundling.
Historically, the information we consumed came bundled, as it supported distribution. Bundled by media organisations, news and information came to us in a format that suited the publisher, not the reader. Now, with the internet, information is being unbundled, no, now it is unravelling at pace. Journalists are no longer tied to the guidance and whims of their media bosses. Unbundling has given everyone a voice.
We have become empowered to have an opinion — and share it too.
The internet allows us to write or speak, and earn from it.
It is this unbundling that is causing much trouble to those of us who seek wisdom and insight. No longer limited, information comes at us like it's an extinction-level tsunami. The impact is devastating on our attention, as I'm noticing.
Information isn’t limited to content, as Balaji Srinivasan explains here to Tim Ferriss.
The reason that BTC and ETH are important is, first they represent the sort of unbundling from the old system where it’s no longer able to corral all the nodes, the nodes aren’t all trusted, it isn’t performing the functions that they all wanted. And the top ones can now escape to build something better, which they did on the internet. And that I think becomes the new centre that people align around, like the digital native kind of thing. Because I don’t believe that you just have all these particles flying around forever. I think we’re in the age of unbundling and then eventually re-bundling.
I mean like there’s that thing by Jim Barksdale, the only way he knew how to make money on the internet was unbundling and bundling, that was a very funny kind of thing, it’s also true, you think about you unbundle all the songs from all the albums then you’ve re-bundled them in Spotify playlists. You unbundle every single article, and website, and URL in the world and you re-bundle them into a Twitter feed.
You unbundle all of these different — actually, there’s a lot of things I could talk about with unbundling here, but you unbundle all these different products and you have them on Amazon and you re-bundle them into like shopping lists or whatever they are, so you can click and just buy like 50 things at once, it’s as if you have your own store shelf, this is your prepper shopping list. And there’s 1000 things like this if you think about the unbundling and re-bundling.
What’s clear, is that I can’t re-bundle myself. The tsunami is too big.
What I need is synthesis.
Filtering the flow.
My battle is the same as everyone else’s.
I consume too much, and then don’t have the time to digest and learn from what I’ve read. I’m a classic example of many others in this information overload. Consumption becomes an addiction. I’m chasing the next knowledge bomb with so much haste, I’ve forgotten why I’m chasing it.
Less is more — it’s a platitude I’m yet to experience when dealing with information. But the answer does indeed lie with less.
To get less information, I need to filter the information that’s already out there. If I can reduce my intake, I can increase my attention to the sources that matter. Of course, taking an approach of filtering is entirely logical.
Some might call this curation.
Curation though isn’t enough to re-bundle this mass volume of content. Hence, the arrival of synthesisers.
With synthesis, someone else does the hard work of parsing. Combining elements from a variety of sources to create an effective summary.
It is the re-bundling the internet has been screaming for.
My search for synthesisers
2021 has been my search for synthesisers.
Reading changes when you start to consider how well supported a view actually is. What I’m looking for are writers who invest beyond their words. I don’t want to see rash statements, but the combination of resources and intellect that creates a wholesome view.
The unbundling we are witnessing makes clickbait titles king—and the masses will accept that for a time. I don’t want hollow words, I value my time and need quality well thought through arguments to help me grow and evolve.
There is no way I can continue to tolerate the tsunami washing our attention away.
So, you might be wondering who my favourite synthesisers are—well, that’s for another day. For now, I want to consider how this collective synthesis will help me.
What these synthesisers will do for me.
With a collective of high-quality synthesisers on hand, the next question is to decide how to use them.
My focus is to limit my reading to the articles they produce. Yes, I'm mindful of creating an echo chamber, but I have to pull on their wisdom to learn. I cannot waste time curating noise. As I said earlier — less is more, and by focusing more on this high-quality feed I know I'll get more.
My chosen synthesisers will deliver this.
Crucially—and this is a huge missing element at the moment, I will have the capacity to research areas of interest from the synthesis I absorb. The re-bundling gives me a platform to excel my learnings.
It’s going to make 2022 my year of synthesis.