Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

How to Turn Information into Intelligence (Barbara Oakley)

Introduction LO:

This is a fascinating topic. author Barbara Oakley mentions using patterns as a solution. In my blogs, I use interconnectedness as a substitute for these patterns, or – alternatively – the Big Picture.

Standalone information is often not readily available in our memory because it’s stored deeply or far away in our minds. That makes perfect sense because our mind uses a kind of storage matrix, based on (at least) the dimensions Likelihood (eg, of retrieval) and Impact (eg, trauma). See my diagram below.

Once you connect the information in your mind into a Big Picture then the likelihood of (swift) retrieval will automatically increase, despite having a low impact.

Essentially, that Big Picture is a kind of process flow chart. Interconnectedness implies that the output of one information silo is the input of the next information silo.

There are some tricks, like using checklists:

  • plausibility check: use comparisons (eg, animals vs humans);
  • completeness check: use the dimensions How, What, When, Where, Who and Why;
  • timeliness check: consider History, Present & Future;
  • quality check: consider the dimensions Better, Faster, Harder & Stronger (eg, video, Wiki);
  • causality or process checks: everything has input and output components.

My mind prefers to include the above by making images (eg, diagrams); not words.

How to Turn Information into Intelligence with Barbara Oakley (Big Think / The Well)

By: Barbara Oakley (eg, University, website, Wikipedia)
Date: 28 June 2022 (email)

“No matter how original and exciting today might be, a whole lot of it is exactly the same as any other day. Eating lunch, driving a car, brushing your teeth, buying a coffee, tying your shoes, flicking through your phone — they’re all exactly the same as yesterday and yesteryear.

As Dr. Barbara Oakley explains, the competent and speedy completion of tasks involves “chunking,” in which we practice, repeat, and remember a sequence or set of actions that are best in dealing with a problem. The greatest chess grandmasters do it, and you do it when you’re parking your car. It’s the hallmark of efficient and effective learning.

The problem is that the brain doesn’t do especially well with just “information.” To turn information into actionable intelligence, you have to employ that age-old trick: habit. Oakley uses the analogy of learning a song. Those of us who aren’t blessed with a photographic memory probably cannot sing or repeat a song from a single listen. We need to hear it again and again. We need to sing it again and again. So, too, with any expertise.

We need to turn information into workable, automatic chunks. We need to store it as the kind of unthinking, unconscious competence of a professional musician or juggler. We need to turn disconnected, disassociated information into patterns.”

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