Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Confidence and Competence and Information Overload

The internet is a wonderful thing.

Every problem has a thousand solutions: documented; discussed; dissected.

This sumptuous surfeit of suitable solutions seems satisfactory; superb even, save for one small snag:

My effective competence, my ability to work quickly and solve problems, is driven largely by my confidence in my own abilities, my own evaluation of the completeness of my knowledge versus the task at hand.

When I was younger, the arrogance of youth made this easy. I plowed on ahead, ignorant of my own ignorance, I performed, gained accolades, and life was good.

However, faced with ever rising flood-waters issuing from the fire-hose of information that is the internet today, it is all too easy to start comparing what I know with what I could know, which, expressed as a ratio, is always going to be depressingly close to zero. With self-confidence thus undermined, the inevitable consequence of this is for me to loose sight of the fact that I have enough information at hand to get on with it, without worry or concern, and to get dragged down into the rabbit-hole.

This problem is compounded when one tries to pick up a new tool or technology, an activity that (given the pace of technological advance) one needs to do more-or-less continuously.

Now, I love learning, but I cannot resist the temptation to compare my knowledge and level of expertise in the latest tool to my knowledge and level of expertise in the last, and, in the worst-case-scenario one or two weeks worth of experience is never going to compare favourably with six or seven years.

In situations such as this, I have to keep telling myself to HTFU and demilquetoastify my attitude.