By Janelle M. Lewis, Principal Attorney, The Law Office of Janelle M. Lewis
What Has Been Said About Information?
“…Information is liberating…”
“Getting information off the internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant.”
“….When there is information, there is enlightenment…”
“We tend to accept information that confirms our prior beliefs and ignore or discredit information that does not.”
“More information is always better than less…”
“Information is not knowledge.”
So…Is Information Good or Bad?
Having information is not always bad, nor is it always good – it is necessary, and as with anything else, it must be managed. Having the right information can help you make informed decisions. When we are misinformed, however, it becomes difficult if not impossible to make the best decision for our specific circumstances.
Where do we go for information?
Nowadays, when we need information, most of us (if not all of us) go to the same place – the internet.
The internet, for all its good, has its flaws. It provides us with information without any guarantee that the information that we receive is the right information we need to make our decisions.
As an attorney, I often have clients say to me, “well I found this on the internet.” I, as well as many lawyers (and doctors, accountants, and other professionals) get frustrated by this statement. It is not, however, for the reasons you might think. It is not because we feel that are work or our livelihoods are being usurped by the internet, but that people are either being: 1) misinformed; and/or 2) the information is incorrectly applied; and/or 3) the information has nothing to do with the situation at hand. The struggle comes down to two sides: self empowerment vs. misinformation.
The struggle between being self-empowered by information versus being misguided?
I have one solution, which I will discuss within the next few paragraphs (albeit in a self-serving way), but as a person who has often referred to the internet when I have questions about my own health or finances, I understand how easy it can be to simply to type in a search term (or ask Suri, Google or whatever “tech assistant” I have on hand at the moment) and get the answer I want within seconds. The answer I receive can either be something I pre-conceived it to be, in which case I am done searching – or something to the contrary of what I thought it would be, in which case I will spend hours searching until I get the answer that resonates with what I believe it should be. Either way, one thing I have to be honest with myself is this – there are times that I have no way of knowing whether or not the information I found is reliable.
Now this is not to say that the information cannot be derived form a reliable source – one that is known for having the needed information, such as professional associations, medical journals or government websites. However, how many times do we seek the synthesized version of information we get from these sources, such as an analysis, breakdown or summary ? Then the question becomes, is this analysis, breakdown or summary correct? And even if it is, does it apply to our specific situation? Unfortunately, however, when we get the synthesized information, many of us do not go further – we simply take it as being the answer to our question.
So What Is The Solution?
Here are some solutions for sorting through information on the internet to ensure it is correct and applicable to your circumstance:
- Question the information by asking yourself the important questions;
- Where is this information coming from?
- What basis does the source have for providing the information?
- What is the objective of the source?
- Should they be trusted? Why?
- Does it actually apply to my specific situation or circumstances?
- Have someone who can answer the above questions give you the information.
Now this is the part where this blog article becomes self-serving, but if you can look past it, it actually makes sense. Having someone who has knowledge of the information you are seeking can actually help you get the information (and the answers) you need. They know what is correct, what is not and what information is applicable to your situation. In the context of the specific information you are seeking, for example: legal information, medical information or accounting information – where can you go? If you are fortunate enough to have family, friends or even acquaintances who are knowledgable about the specific information you need, you can ask them. However, do they have the time? Is is fair? If the answer to both questions is yes, then go forth and utilize your resources.
If the answers to one or both of the questions is no, then you need to seek an outside source. For legal information (if you are an entrepreneur) you can go to the Law Office of Janelle M. Lewis, who has recently created the “Creating the Bridge Across the Atlantic Legal Information Portal for Entrepreneurs.” (Please note that this is attorney advertising). For information outside the scope of what my Portal provides, you can seek services trusted services that will provide you with specific information you need in order to make the decisions you need to make.
One More thing…Is there a Difference Between Information and Advice?
Yes, there is. Information is:
“the communication or reception of knowledge or intelligence”
“Facts provided or learned about something or someone.”
And Advice is:
“recommendation regarding a decision or course of conduct”
“Guidance or recommendations offered with regard to prudent future action.”
Information is not advice, it is communication knowledge or providing facts about something or someone. Advice is the recommendation or guidance of what someone should do with the information given. Why is this distinction important? Because there are times that you need to informed before you can receive advice. This is also why having the right information is so important so that you can get the right advice.
For entrepreneurs interested in seeking information on U.S. law as it relates to their business, please feel free to contact the Law Office of Janelle M. Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://www.lawjmlewis.com/legal-info-for-entrepreneurs/
The views expressed in this article do not constitute legal advice and legal information provided in this post should not be relied upon as legal advice. Please contact an Attorney for advice on your specific matter.