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Jan 19 2009

When is too much information, too much information?

Jamie Barrows

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I read an interesting rant over the weekend. It’s titled "Is this the better world you were talking about?" And the main theme seemed to be the information glut that we are daily exposed to. And the point seemed to be that the information glut is causing more harm than good.

I’ve written about information overload in one of my posts before. But other than claiming I need to be better at dealing with it, I am pretty strongly of the opinion that more information is better than less.

The author of the article makes the point that a huge amount of the information out there these days is exaggerated or overreported. And he’s right. A lot of it is just exaggerated opinions and fearmongering. Bias and sensationalism is rampant in our news media. But is that really a difference from the past or a problem that needs to be fixed? As I posted in one of my posts over a year ago, I don’t see that as an issue. ALL NEWS is biased by the opinions and beliefs of the reporter. That holds true no matter what the medium (TV, Newspaper, Radio, Internet, etc.) is. As long as you can identify the bias of the reporter and know that it is there, you should be able to get the facts out of the story.

And as for being overwhelmed by the information, it isn’t all that hard to just turn off the TV, or not read the article. If the weather channel is giving you too much information, just don’t watch it. If you are constantly getting sucked into the conspiracy theories of fringe groups, stop listening to them.

The way I see it, it’s just a question of developing proper filters. People need to learn how to filter out the fringe extremist groups and make sure they get their news from multiple sources to recognize and counteract the bias present in any one source. They need to be disciplined enough to turn off the news feed if it is taking over their lives or becoming an obsession.

There will always be those people who can’t or won’t develop decent critical filters, but that doesn’t mean the world would be better off with less information. If you look at history, you will see that in almost every repressive society, much of that repression was accomplished by a strict control of information and the means of communication. That kind of control, in our information rich and information overloaded society,  is no longer possible.

These days we have true freedom to express our knowledge and opinions. And the luxury of being able to choose our sources of information and control the quantity of the information we receive. I don’t think I would want to give that freedom up or go back to the days of limited information.

Would you? Is there such a thing as too much information?


Nov 23 2008

Windows Live Writer

Jamie Barrows

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I’m generally pretty happy with the default WordPress posting interface. It’s clean and pretty easy to use. But some people I know find it a bit more difficult to use. So when I heard that Windows Live Writer could handle both Microsoft Live Spaces blogs and third party blogs, I thought I would check it out.

And I’m actually pretty impressed. It integrates seamlessly with your blog(no matter what the style looks like), and allows for all the bells and whistles that posting through the normal interface allows. Plus, for those used to a "word" style writing interface, Windows Live Writer provides a familiar look and feel.

I just can’t get over how well it integrates. For example, this post was written entirely with Windows Live Writer rather than the normal built in WordPress tools. And if I hadn’t said anything, there is no way you could have known. So while I doubt I’ll be using this too much myself, I’ll probably be installing it on my Mom’s computer for her sites.


Dec 30 2007

Missions Project

Jamie Barrows

Rock PileToday I set up a website for my missions project. The whole thing kind of went on hold over the last month. What with Christmas and everything, I just didn’t have a lot of time to work on it. But now I’m getting back to it.

Things are going rather well on the Installer. So I thought it was time to set up a website to host the project files and various pieces of data that this project entails. It’s mostly a shell at the moment, but I’ll be adding to it in the next few weeks. So stay tuned to the new project website for updates.

Check it out: www.MissionDisk.com


Nov 21 2007

New Project Idea

Jamie Barrows
DVD disk

Ok, the paying bills post got me actively working on trying to find something I could do. Preferably, at least to start, it needed to be something I could do with my current resources. And after a lot of discussions with friends an family, I think I came up with something I can do now. This project would be just the beginning, but at least it’s a start. My thought is to put together a software and training package for missionaries.

Specifically a package for missionaries and native pastors dealing with writing prayer letters and doing basic publishing. I’ve been trying to find something where I can use my current skill set. And I think this might be useful. I realized that, while I don’t have a lot of formal training, I do have a lot of word processing and small scale publishing experience. Things a lot of people can do with very little experience, but most wouldn’t know where to start.

Small CrossIf I could create a training package that used nothing but free software and taught missionaries and native pastors how to create prayer letters and presentations using that software it would be a really useful tool. Maybe add some basic image editing to the package. I could try to get a list of cheap digital cameras that I could evaluate and recommend (or tell them to avoid) as part of the package.

I’ll also be trying to collect a bunch of online resources and links for them. And if they have local Internet access, try to teach them how to set up and run a blog (which would be basically just an online prayer letter).

So the plan is to use my expertise to build an entire resource package geared towards missions that would be very low cost or free for the missionary. I’ve done a good bit of research already to see if there is a package out there that does this, and haven’t found anything. And the more I talk to about this to people, the more it seems like there is a real need. And it is something I can easily do and should be able to do a good job at.

Finding and evaluating disparate pieces of software, integrating them together, and writing support documentation is something I do in my job all the time. So building and collecting the pieces needed for a package like this is something I have some experience with and should be able to do.