Guest Post by Shakirah Dawud

There was a radio station we used to listen to pretty often during my  morning commute. It used to proclaim at program breaks: “WXXX, where information is power.”

The hair immediately rose on the back of my neck, and from then on hearing that phrase intoned by the bass voice had me grimacing inwardly. It’s an easily digested lie.

Information of itself (in hands other than Google’s, Facebook’s, or the FBI’s) is useless.

I remind myself of that when I’m frustrated by how fast my Twitter stream is moving, or the new “free ebook alerts” I’ll never get to read, or the LinkedIn discussions I never get to join.

“It’s too much information at once!” I lament, “and my head is soon to explode!”

But really, it’s not my head that’ll explode, it’s my competitive nature fueled by my foolish hope that reading just another few hundred words will make me savvier. There’s no real danger that my head will pop off unless I put it to work on that complicated alchemy equation, (Information + Application) × Time = Knowledge.

Otherwise, I’m doing the social media equivalent of watching National Geographic.

For example, anacondas grow up to 20 feet long. I heard it. From a respectable, authoritative source. It’s not the culmination of an exhaustive field study of jungle snakes that I worked on. I’ve never even seen an anaconda of any size.

But it feels good to be able to parrot these little things back, grab a tip and apply it to my blog within a couple seconds, apply a new word I saw for the first time a minute ago, and act like I’ve known all along.

Knowledge gain can be fast or slow, but it always follows the formula above. 

If I haven’t done that math, I can’t say I truly “know it” yet. I’ve seen it, heard it, read it, shared it. But it’s still rattling around in the pan, a little lump of information not yet alchemized into the golden part of my gray matter that processes and implements with experience and application as its back-up.

Taking that alchemy metaphor a little further relieves a lot of stress when I realize I’d rather carry an ounce of gold dust then a pound of lead. So from here on, I won’t stress.

I’ll take in what I can, and I’ll work harder at converting it into something worth owning before I move on.

It takes time to learn, to find the happy patterns for your business, and become sure of their efficacy. But to bend and break those rules as if we own them takes power.

And that’s what real knowledge is.

If we can’t do the math ourselves, that’s when it’s time to admit that experts really can be worth their weight in …

… well, knowledge.

Photo credit: Gerald Hng, courtesy of Flickr, CC 2.o.

Shakirah DawudShakirah Dawud is the writer and editor behind Deliberate Ink. Based in Maryland with roots in New York, she’s been crafting effective marketing copy as a writer and polishing many forms of prose as an editor since 2002. Clients in many fun sizes, industries, and locations reach her through the Web.