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Who’s Your Filter?

One of the ways in which people deal with information overload is to use a filter to screen out unwanted information and eliminate the amount of time spent on non-essential topics. Filters can take many forms but one of the most common is simply the “trusted source” — a person …

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In Search of the Right Metric

The Wisconsin DNR just kicked off its PR campaign for Operation Deer Watch this week. This program is designed to collect data about the state’s deer herd and it is used primarily to keep tabs on the overall deer population. This is serious business for folks who live in America’s …

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One Man’s Helpful Hint is Another Man’s Interruption

A friend recently sent me this link to a discussion on the merits of obscure airport security notifications about snowglobes. Oddly enough, I experienced the snowglobe issue firsthand on a recent trip to New Mexico. The circumstances: My daughter collects snowglobes Snowglobes are the classic souvenir Terrorists have attempted to smuggle incendiary fluids in small …

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The Art of the List

Lists have always been a great way of organizing your thoughts but in this era of ever-shrinking attention spans they can also make an effective communication tool. Here are the top reasons why I think lists work so well: Lists force writers to organize their thoughts. The basic structure of a …

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Humans and the Evaluation of Risk

David Brooks of the NYT said it succinctly in a recent article on the BP mess: “If there is one thing we’ve learned, it is that humans are not great at measuring and responding to risk when placed in situations too complicated to understand.” Amen, brother!

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Information vs. Distraction (Part 1)

In a recent commencement speech to the graduating class at Hampton University in Virginia, President Obama told students: “You’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank all that …

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The Data Uncertainty Principle

Every now and then I’ll finish a big reporting project and the project lead will send me a follow-up comment like: “Here’s hoping everything’s perfect!” For some reason this always strikes me as a very weird thing to say. Of course it isn’t going to be perfect … it’s data. …