Want to learn a simple, yet very effective technique to extract more meaning, and better analyse information?
Want to hear a grown ass man talk about high-school, magic the gathering and try to cram as many memes into 580 words as possible…?
Then you’ve come to the right place.
This article will show you how I use good ol’ fashion highlighters to understand information and extract more meaning from any given article, intelligence brief or book.
I remember back in high school, I would often see the smart kids using highlighters in class.
…I never actually knew what they were highlighting. But they all had’em.
It didn’t bother me none. I had more important things to be getting on with – like learning how to play Texas Hold’em and winning Magic the Gathering Tournaments…
Yep, true story.
Ah, but how the tables have turned. Now I’m the one all with all the highlighters…[manic laugh] mwahahahaha
As it turns out, these little suckers are a force multiplier for intelligence analysts.
It’s proven, using highlighters to mark texts, documents, books and articles not only improves concentration, they also help memory retention and information recall!
More importantly, using this simple tactic can actually improve your understanding and critical thinking…
You can thank me later.
So, to use this tactic you’ll need 4 x different coloured highlights. (And yes, they do need to be different coloured…)
Ok, so to use this technique, follow these four easy steps below;
Step 1 – Read First (don’t highlight)
Yep, read first to get an understanding of the content, it’s meaning, and a general overview.
Step 2 – Connect the dots (with highlighters)
Using your four different coloured highlighters, as you read through each paragraph, use a different highlighter to identify –
- A person (Green),
- A place or location (Blue)
- A time, date or year (Yellow) &
- An action, or future action to come (Purple / Pink / Whatever else).
Step 3 – Repeat
As you read, continue to use this technique throughout.
You’ll start to see patterns in places, with people and identify the key pieces of information needed to make intelligent assessments.
Step 4 – Analyse Your Information
Now you can extract relevant information, and structure your data it in a multitude of ways;
People. Use a network analysis or hierarchy tool to analyse all the green highlighted information. Or,
Timeline. Use a timeline analysis technique to list the yellow information in chronological order to better understand what happened and when.
Geoint. Plot all the blue information on a map to understand where events occurred, what else happened in those areas and the surrounding environment.
Stuff that happened. Your pink / purple highing should detail the actions relevant to the incident.
Extracting this information can provide unique insight into what has occurred (explanative analysis) and what might happen in the future (predictive analysis).
Want to see it in action?
Sure. This is how I use the highlighter technique –
Now it’s your turn.
Download the following article – visit the link here. Read it once then use the highlighter technique to extract the different elements.
Let me know what you find, or the insights this technique identifies.
Happy highlighting –
In summary. The highlighter technique helps intelligence analysts with cognative function such as information recall and critical analysis. It also allows me to feel like one of those smart kids in high school. Win, win.
Homework. Get yourself some highlighters and start practising this technique.
Then let us know how this technique helped you to better identify and extract information for Intelligence! Reply in the comments below.