The importance of raw materials

The finest coffee makers invest a lot of effort in getting the best coffee beans. Gourmet chocolate producers are specific about where their cocoa is grown. The best woolen sweaters are made of cashmere or merino wool, and English willow makes the best cricket bats. Ask every chef and they would tell you how the quality of their cooking depends on selecting the right raw materials. 

To produce anything is to take a collection of raw materials and put them through a process. The quality of the inputs serves as a base value. The process is a multiplying factor to get to the final quality of the output. This is why the finest producers are strategic about where they get their raw materials. 

This is as true of our understanding of the world. The input here is the information we consume.  This information combines with our thinking to form our world-view.

The need to curate our information input is more important today than ever. In the past, information was scarce and reached us through several gatekeepers – newspaper editors, book publishers and museum curators. These gatekeepers had the responsibility of controlling its quality. Today, most information that reaches us is free and spreads throughout the internet. This implies every one of us is forced to take over the role of controlling for quality, both with regard to the information that reaches us as well as what we choose to forward to our loved ones.

The key here is to be strategic about the input information, and not situational. The strategic coffee brewer invests effort in picking out her sources. The situational ones get the cheapest or the most readily available beans in the market. That is why the former is able to charge multiple times what the latter does for a cup of latte. 

Nevertheless, the information we consume is increasingly organized. Seasoned thinkers are strategic. They curate and organize this information. Everybody else is at the mercy of algorithms that might not be serving them.

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