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Franco Scarpa
Franco Scarpa

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The Navigator without Compass

This article was originally published on my website.

I want to build a desktop PC from scratch. I read articles and see video reviews on the Web to choose the best components that fit my needs. Many companies make great hardware, so it’s not easy to pick something. One analysis recommends to buy that specific component; another recommends to prefer the other one, a third source suggests getting an even different product.

I am a self-taught person, and I was able to learn most of what I know today about web development by myself, surfing the Web. Many people start to realize the incredible possibilities that this media offers us. On the one hand, it’s so easy to look for anything; but on the other hand, it’s challenging to be able to construct your own opinion around the information you find.

Every topic generates articles in favor of and against. What is the right way to proceed? How can you be able to build your very own personal opinion about what you’re reading? The most straightforward answer would be to search and see what other people say. The typical sequence of steps to buy a motherboard, for example, would be something like this:

  1. I need a board;
  2. I look for it;
  3. I find a couple of websites telling me to choose a specific product;
  4. I buy that product, in case the reviews are good.

I’m not that kind of user. My researches are made of reading, examinations, in-depth analysis, and comparisons. I thought this was the right way to proceed, and I still think that. However, that causes me to lose motivation. I find myself spending hours and hours surfing the Web to find what best fits my needs, but every time, I feel overwhelmed by the amount of information I find. Most of the time, I end up closing my laptop, frustrated and motiveless.

What makes my research even more confusing is that online every person has the opportunity to make her voice heard. The Web is a media that lets you spread your own ideas, be it right or wrong. So, what is on the Web can not only be objectively true or false, but it can also be a personal reflection, opinion, idea, consideration, or warning.

To verify the truthfulness of what users say, you need to check who they are, why they say what they say, what their credentials are, and the motivation that brings them to that specific outcome.

Every time I search for something on the Web, I get results like:

  1. why utilize this;
  2. why not make use of this;
  3. why choose this;
  4. why not wanting this;
  5. why you should prefer this;
  6. why you should give up this;
  7. ten reasons for wanting this;
  8. ten motives for not needing this.

Do you understand what I mean? It’s not easy to orient in such a messy and opinion-filled world. Despite that, being able to express your personal opinion is an absolutely undeniable asset that must be preserved.

I strive to keep research a pleasant experience and to not being overwhelmed. I admit it’s not an easy task, also because there’s a notable subset of Internet users that don’t argue what they say, pontificating what they think is the only possible way to reason about something.

The only thing to do is to roll up your sleeves, striving to outline your own thoughts, consulting a good number of reliable sources, so that you are no longer a navigator without a compass: you build the compass yourself.

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