Information overload becomes pattern recognition

Posted on: May 2, 2010

What is pattern recognition?

Pattern recognition involves identification of faces, objects, words, melodies, etc. Pattern recognition refers to the process of recognizing a set of stimuli arranged in a certain pattern that is characteristic of that set of stimuli.

Gestalt (theory) effect refers to the form-forming capability of our senses, particularly with respect to the visual recognition of figures and whole forms instead of just a collection of simple lines and curves. “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts” is often used when explaining Gestalt theory.

Principle of Totality – The conscious experience must be considered globally (all physical and mental aspects of the individual simultaneously) because the nature of the mind demands that each component be considered as part of a system of dynamic relationships.

General solutions for information overload that becomes part of pattern recognition:

  • Gain information on a ‘need to know now’ basis rather than ‘nice to know’.
  • Focus on quality of information.
  • Be direct with questioning/answering.
  • Single-tasking keep mind focus on one issue at a time.

Pattern recognition is looking at the analysis of logic vs emotion, how you analyse information and make selective choices by seeing patterns. So even though people may generally pick out similar bits of information that’s relevant to them, there’s always minute variations in interpretation because of their individual feelings linked to their past experiences. An example to show personal interpretation can be found in various experimental films whereby the footage presented is designed to make you find a meaning within the images and sounds.

Naqoyqatsi  is the third film made by Godfrey Reggio called  Life as War, and was part of the Qatsi trilogy. The film focuses on society’s transition from a natural environment to a technology-based industrial environment. I like the calm and gradual approach to telling a story about the changes from analogue to the digital age. The slow motion film over lapping each other and orchestral score (composed by Phillip Glass) creates a tense and heavy tone with the dis-coloration, negative treated, distorted footage. I know that due to it being considered as an experimental film its open to interpretation, I find the symbolism of mass production (products we use, and our collective conscious mind on the internet) and how our lives is becoming more and more busy as individuals with the speed of information, is portrayed as; marching people, and a lone skater, is so simple and yet easy to relate to (iconic).

Pattern recognition in business:

The recent boom in social networking is a good example to show how someones looked at what people are looking at; information on the internet, personal websites about themselves or subject of interest and created servers that provide sevice’s for people.  For instance social information like, msn worked by connecting people via text and one to one sharing, then LinkedIn; professional career networking and myspace; social networking which attracted a young audience with its changeable layouts and applications, uploaded images, text feeds, and other movements the user does on the server widening the one to one sharing to one to global sharing. Both networks came out in 2003 attracting different types of online socialites (age, lifestyle, goals) and gained popularity for their ability to connect people from around the world for professional or personal reasons. Then Facebook, which started out as a university social networking server(2004) and later developed for global use (2006) was introduced for the general need for a professional social network server, which could update its live feeds which myspace never offered (through uploaded images, text feeds, and other movements the user does on the server), and had  set design layout (which encouraged more serious and professional people to use). Finally the latest social networking fad is Twitter where short text live feed messages is shared amongst friends, specifically for thoughts, and sharing links.

A gradual increase in sharing information on these servers means that a person needs to focus on whats the common interest or identify a pattern in information that can be used for the future; the developers of Facebook and Twitter had already seen how social networking was in demand early on since myspace and developed their own through seeing how many people signed up on previous networks and how they use these for themselves and what they wanted. Even stock brokers after being blasted with price data need to see a pattern in order to make the right decisions:

‘When you see a price pattern starting to form on a stock chart, you know the stock is starting to slow down, or consolidate, and that you need to slow down, take a step back and evaluate what may happen to it. What you don’t know, is whether the stock is going to breakout and continue moving in the same direction after it slows down, or if the stock is going to turn around and change direction.

Price patterns are an underutilized and extremely valuable tool in your stock-trading arsenal. It may take a little while to get comfortable with dealing with the subtle nuances and occasional ambiguity that are a part of price patterns, but once you do, you will feel like you are able to see into the future.

Price patterns are visual representations of market psychology. They tell you when traders in the market are excited and moving, when they need to take a moment and catch their breath and regroup and when they are ready to get moving again.’

S. Wade Hansen

This is all specific access to specific information, what about assembling multiple unrelated sources of information into one?

‘Information overload is an opportunity for pattern recognition and thus leads to better abilities to sense what is going on and how to respond to it. Therefore, information overload is actually a good thing. Obviously it brings anxiety at certain times, but if you position yourself with it in a different attitude based on the flow/perceiving metaphor rather than collection/consumption metaphor, you will have much easier time coping with it.

This is exactly why those people who use RSS readers to scan through thousands of feeds, read blog posts from various decentrally connected sources and who engage themselves into assembling multiple unrelated sources of information into one (probing connections between them) have much greater ability to sense and respond to changing conditions in increasingly complex environments than those who read only the major newspapers, watch only the major news networks and don’t put themselves into a difficult situation of being hammered with a lot of stuff at once.

Linear, intentional learning was how you learned in the past. Enter nonlinear, visually active way of learning of the future.

The blogosphere is like a digital photograph: one pixel is one blog post. The details don’t make any sense but once the pixels appear to be connected, it forms a pattern, a picture perhaps that you can recognize. This is exactly what happens if you swim in information overload and try to perceive how things fit together. As a result, you might think that you have almost psychic capabilities to know what is happening at the market right now and how to respond.

If you are an individual, start using RSS readers and expand your field of subliminal vision. Use sources that regularly provide insight into your life. If you are a corporation, create information overload inside your organization and give people tools to follow and perceive patterns. Otherwise your competitors will soon know better than you what to do next.’

Taking it to a more personal level, overloading yourself with information even if they have no real strong links can help generate patterns which you would never have seen or thought about and can use; creating personal links from information sources that have weak or no connection to the subject. Controlling when you let information overload you, and what types whether its personal or work related, helps with using such data for perceived developments and actions. It could even benefit you by thinking outside the box, or being ahead of the game, rather than following the crowd, self realisation; internal change in behavior or attitude, actions that produce positive outcomes (business, or personal).

‘The ART of Adaptive Pattern Recognition – By a self organising Neural Network’ by Gail. A. Carpenter, Stephen Grossberg (1987;1) looks into how intelligent systems can posses the ability to adapt to similar stimuli by making links to previous memories, which allows:

‘…learning to be automatically incorporated into the total knowledge base of the system in a globally self-consistant way.’

‘The ART of Adaptive Pattern Recognition – By a self organising Neural Network’

Gail. A. Carpenter, Stephen Grossberg (1987;1)

This is how and why people deal with information overload, by analysing a vast flow of information, that encourages the ability to recognise patterns and change one’s condition to understand and survive.

Simon Everly a web designer posted on his blog about his experience with word association generators: Web Seer, What do you suggest?. Both sites acts like a visual Google suggestion drop bar; they allow the user to input a word and in response the generator presents the user with suggestions for the next word just like Google but show the number of searches for each suggestion by the size of the arrows; so the thicker the arrow the more searches Google has had with the whole phrase and vice versa. He found out over a period of time that familiar patterns in peoples searches started to reveal themselves to him; music, religion and relationships.

What to do:


Create repeated audio source with tone breaks to help break up the sequence of iconic images. Music or voice or both?

Pattern recognition is looking at the analysis of logic vs emotion, how you analyse information and make selective choices by seeing patterns. So even though people may generally pick out similar bits of information that’s relevant to them, there’s always minute variations in interpretation because of their individual feelings linked to their past experiences.

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