It’s like Sports Center, but Not.

work safe

Do you know how many RBIs have been hit against Cal Ripkin? How many times was a Manning sacked by a running back last year?

To put it a different way, who has the most Oscars for cinematography in a tv series?

I’m pretty sure those questions make no sense. I’m not passing judgment on sports fans, or movie buffs. I choose to spend my time doing other things. This crystallized while I was talking with Ryan. Some people have different information acquisition profiles. A few months back I saw an interview from RailsConf of Tim Ferriss, the author of the four-hour work week. He mentioned he had stopped pro-actively acquiring information because by the he needed it, he’d forgotten it. If we couple this with the acknowledgement that we can’t learn everything, what’s the best way to gain knowledge? The thesis of the interview was “just in time knowledge.”

The Internet, and your local library, make this possible. With a network of friends, it’s not a bad idea. But there is a catch. How do you know if there is something out there to know?

Recently, a coworker asked me about sending data over a modem. I couldn’t help him solve his problem, but I gave him enough to start looking. But in a sea of data, where can I find a library to tell me the frequency of a sound? Which XML library should I use? How do I know to use MVVM or IOC? Where do I start?

I’ll let you figure that out. We started to identify three patterns of acquisition; Infovore, tasker, and opportunist. These patterns depend on a combination of the person and the area of interest.

An infovore collects information for the sake of information. It’s a news hound. It’s a super fan. It’s how I approach programming. It is my hobby, but it might not be yours.

A tasker starts researching around the edges of their task. Think an informed patient. Researching cars when you need a new ride. Looking at testing frameworks when you’re a developer tester.

An opportunist only learns what they need when they need it. I’m so here with car repair. I’ve been known to watch a soccer game on TV, but I have no idea who’s playing this week, or when.

The interesting thing about this is that different people fit different profiles for different topics. A fantasy football player is likely either an infovore or a tasker regarding their team. But most of us are taskers or opportunists when it comes to health insurance.

Let’s look at three RPG players. One spends time on the Wizards boards tweaking min-max builds all weekend. Another looks at the books when it’s time for build a character or level, but still enjoys the game. The last loves hanging out with his friends, but still has to ask (though not as often) what does he roll for that again? Who’s fun is wrong-bad? I can’t tell you that.

I think the interesting part is to realize the categories of interest in our lives and determine what are acquisition profile is in those categories. Then, accordingly, determine if we’re okay with that.

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