Information Saturation

(insert drawing here)

The internet is an amazing way to get new information however, as we have probably seen, the amount of information you gain from your research plateaus in after sometime. In microeconomics, it is called the “Economics of Information”.  This is the study of how information affects the way that we make economic decisions. This is an indepth study, however, the aim of this article is to explore how getting a lot of information overtime does not help us in the long run.

The graph shown in figure 1 shows the information as the source of value (on the x axis) and the amount of usefullness derived from the the information that one gets. It shows that overtime, the amount of information you gain from information you absorbs plateaus. This logic applies to most fields.

An example that stands out to me is what happens when I try to analyse the company I want to invest in. This is what usually happens:

    I look for information about the company I am interested in. I feel frustrated because sometimes I do not find the information I feel I need to make an informed decision.
    I read the company sheets. At this stage, I read and analyse the financial sheets and try to look for red flags. There is a feeling of elation as I have overcome procrastination. My knowledge of the companies that I am trying to compare increases.
    I read about management
    I read about the ways in which the company is being more socially and environmentally responsible. As it is a requirement.

It’s like discovering gold. One person discovers a deposit and decides that this is the place where they might develop a mine. They start drilling and drilling. And the more they drill into the ground, the more they discover information about the gold deposit they have underneath the ground.

Likening information to gold is not a mistake. It is also valuable to us as humans. In a less vain way, I think. But still more valuable as it will reign even as gold depletes.

There are moments where no matter how much you try,

An example that stands out to me is during the exploration of gold. A person suspects that he has gold in area A based on the having sites around them. They start exploring and to gauge the amount of gold they have in their section, they use information they get from the area around them. The sections closest to them highly influences the results that one gets. The further one moves from area A, the less other information will influence the characteristics of area A. There are several stages to this.

Stage 1

At this stage, there is a lot of information about the subject. At this point, as we get more information, the knowledge about the subject increases. There is an feeling of awe as the secrets of your subjects are revealed.

Stage 2

You still have a lot of information to go through. You analyse all of it, however, there is the yield of information that is derived from the information decreases as you go on.

Stage 3

At this stage. The further analysis you do, affects nothing and no matter how far and deeper you get, there is no new information. In fact, what may happen is a decrease in information because of the confusion and anxiety. There is also a feeling of helplessness associated with being unable to form decisions due to information overload.

This is more on knowing where to stop. There is sometimes no way to be but to be adaptable. It is more on learning to work with what we are given without feeling agitated.

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Investing and Time Anxiety

A reflective moment made me realise that I have time anxiety. Time anxiety is the feeling that one should achieve something within a certain period. This feeling usually comes after realising that most of your peers are ahead of you therefore you feel a pressure to catch up. This realisation was cemented after reading that “when you want to hurry something, that means that you no longer care about it and want to get on to other things” (Pirsig, 2014). This quote pushed me to try to slow things down and achieve things in my own time.

I have been taking a lot of investment and personal finance courses lately. I have been rushing through them because of a deadline I set for myself. I did not take time to really understand the concepts that these professors were trying to teach me. Therefore, I have to redo some of them. This is the way to go if I want to stop speculating about the stocks I choose.

Planning is a good way to go but you have to be aware that some projects take longer than expected. Like me, push your deadline to a later date. You will be better for it.

Bibliography

Pirsig, R. (2014). Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance.London: Vintage Books.

Travel for the right reasons

Before travelling the world, there are a few things you may have to consider. These points are here to prevent you from spending a lot of money without enjoying your vacation. These points are as follows:

  1. Reasons for travelling
  2. Destination and duration
  3. Extra money for different activities

Reasons for travelling

Are you travelling because you want to or because you’re rushed into thinking that this is the only chance you will get? If your answer is the latter, you might want to reconsider. Don’t be fooled by the idea that you will never get the chance to travel again. That feeling alone will dampen your enjoyment of the trip. There are always more opportunities to travel which will allow you to save for longer.

Destination and duration

If you are planning on travelling across six different cities for only a week, then you might want to reconsider. The only exception is a road trip with friends, which is a rite of passage. However, if you want a chance at experiencing the culture in you chosen places, you may have to reconsider. The reason is that, most of the time will be depleted by travelling between cities and therefore you won’t be able to experience the joy of exploring the cities. You may have to re-structure your plan to travel for longer or to travel to fewer cities.

Extra money for different activities

Because most of your money will go towards accommodation, you need money to go into the places that require entry fees. Moreover, you may want to try different local cuisines and go to different events. You don’t want to be the person that brings your travel buddies down because you cannot afford entry into a club.

These are a few things you have to consider. Happy planning!

The art of thinking clearly

Reading The Art of Thinking Clearly: Better Thinking, Better Decisions was eye-opening for me in a lot of ways. I realised that it is absurd to try to rid myself of all kinds of emotions and impulses when making decisions. It is impossible to do that therefore chasing this obsession is futile. Emotion will always be the dominant part of my character. The best I can do is study stoicism.

I felt reprimanded after reading the first chapter. When I started investing, I had high hopes that my success rate would be quick and easy. That I was smart enough to succeed in this world. My arrogance has been knocked down a few notches after being reminded that I have “overestimated the probability of my success”. It was hard to read about the “cemetery”.  A place where failed investors who are just as hard-working and as ambitious as I am may end up regardless of how dedicated they may be.

The book is not as cynical as the previous paragraph makes it seem. It serves as a reminder to appreciate the successes that I have and to always remember that I have come far compared to how I was in the past. He calls to my attention the fact that the more successful people get, the more dissatisfied they are with what they have. As we succeed in life, we tend to compare ourselves to people who may be light years ahead of us and forget far we have come to achieve all that we have.

Additionally, I learned a lot about the human flaws and how we can live with them by just being aware that they exist. I have to have awareness that I am biased and fallible. I have to accept the fact that I am shaped by a lot of things out of my control, evolution, the way I grew up etc. It prompted me to borrow Daniel Kahneman, Paul Slovik and Amos Tvesrky’s Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases from the university library because it sparked a new interest on human behaviour.

What I loved about this book is that the author did not claim to have come to some conclusion on how we can better ourselves. I did not want to spoil this book so I barely scratched the  surface. There is more to learn. It is perfect for people who are obsessed with cognitive science too. Like I told my friends, this is not a self-help book!

 

A momentary panic

I was alarmed to see that the value of my investment had plummeted more than 3%. I was not ready for the feeling of distress and the immense temptation I had to sell my asset.

This impulse is intense. It is a constant nudge. An itch I am finding hard to ignore. However, since I am trying to be less rash when it comes to making decisions, I will wait until the value of my asset reaches the lower limit I have set for myself (I learned from my online class that this helps letting go of stock easier). I fear falling into the trap of attaching too much value to my stock to the point where I am unable to let it go.

I am aware that I may be responding to sporadic noise and not information that is impactful. However, because I have one asset, I am keeping a close eye on the security. Watching the daily fluctuations is a highly stressful situation. Despite this, I have no choise but to endure this until my portfolio is more diversified.

Another impulse I am experiencing is the urge to buy another stock to attempt to tip the scale into a more balance position. Where this illogical thought is coming from, I do not understand. As a way to deal with my impulses, like I said before, I have ordered a stock, which I have to cancel in a few hours.

As a way to learn more about impulses and control, I have decided to learn about making decisions under uncertainty. I have already borrowed Daniel Kahneman, Paul Slovik and Amos Tvesrky’s Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases from the university library. Hopefully knowing more about my flaws will help me be more reasonable in making decisions.