On Feb. 26, I sat at the Columbia Investment Management Conference, hoping to glean some insight from a slate of some of today's most respected value investors. However, I couldn't concentrate -- there was just too much ... noise.

Click, click, click, click, click, click ...

In the row in front of me was a collection of suits pounding away on their Blackberries, deftly alternating between the second-by-second tick of their portfolios and their email inbox. It's not that like Tiger Woods in the middle of a back swing, I demand complete silence to focus; I can handle the fidgeting Blackberry clicks in front of me.

Instead, my main problem is more the noise it creates in your life. People are increasingly connected to short bursts of information at all times. This has the power to keep us more connected, but it also preys on the shortcomings of the human mind. The constant stream of data encourages such tasks as frequently checking email and looking at a ticker page every few minutes, but it makes digesting more detailed information next to impossible and promotes actions that provide little or no gains of knowledge.

More information, less knowledge
Value investing has contributed several important lessons to the investing world since Ben Graham started doling out advice through his books and Columbia lectures. Through the years, these lessons have evolved greatly. While Graham focused on companies selling at extremely distressed values, changing market conditions forced students such as Warren Buffett to realize the importance of brand value and other more intangible factors.

Yet, of all the lessons that can be gleaned from great value investors, the temperament and humbleness its greatest practitioners have shown, from Buffett to Browne to Klarman, seems the most applicable today. Instead of trying to chase each new "catalyst" for a stock, or trying to get ahead of a trade, the best value investors produce their own independent-minded research, holding stocks until they reach certain price targets.

It may sound boring, but it's also the perfect panacea for tuning out insignificant events -- ignoring bumps in the road that can cause investors to sell stocks on immaterial news. As the world increasingly facilitates the fickle and impulsive nature of our behavior and inundates us with useless information, a disciplined approach to investing gains more value.

A winning strategy
While the audience in front of me may have been poster children for the wave of information overflow I've described above, the panel of speakers at Columbia's investment conference didn't appear to suffer from this same affliction.

Here's an example of the kinds of stocks keynote speakers David Dreman and Marty Whitman are looking at, as seen in the holdings of Dreman Value Management's Contrarian Mid Cap Value Fund (DRMVX) and Marty Whitman's Third Avenue Value Investor Fund (TVFVX).

Dreman Contrarian Mid-Cap Value Fund


Return From May 1, 2009

Kinetic Concepts (NYSE: KCI)


Fortune Brands (NYSE: FO)


Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK)


Source: Yahoo! Finance and fund filings.

Third Avenue Value Investor Fund


Return From May 1, 2009

Posco (NYSE: PKX)


Brookfield Asset Management (NYSE: BAM)


Bank of New York Mellon (NYSE: BK)


Source: Yahoo! Finance and fund filings.

Not surprisingly many of the stocks listed here are also recommendations for Motley Fool services, and all are well rated in our CAPS service. Taken as a basket of stocks, they're beating the comparable 32.5% return for the S&P 500 SPDR ETF (NYSE: SPY); however, these aren't companies for the faint of heart. Several of these companies have short-term business problems that need to be sorted through; they're a bit of a contrarian play. When you're at the mercy of short-term market moves, you need that level of discipline to know that your thesis will play out while the market turns against you.

That could mean some volatility, some unexpected bumps as the companies restructure after a difficult couple years, but in the end it's a winning strategy that can only pay off through patience and a long-term focus. Find companies trading at attractive levels and tune out the noise.

Foolish bottom line
Even if you're not a dyed-in-the-wool value investor, the school of investing offers some great lessons for investors of all kinds. I know it's not exactly ground-breaking to criticize information overflow in the age of Twitter, but it's also easy to get caught up, to shorten your time frame and patience without realizing it. Now's the moment to spend more time analyzing industries and companies, less time reading the headlines. More time spent on 10-Ks, less time on Yahoo! Finance's ticker page. It shouldn't be a shock to anyone that unique insights are a far greater wealth creator than chasing a series of breaking reports and scanning the headlines.

Yeah, I know it's boring, but investing excitement should be generated via returns, not up-to-the-minute news updates.

Have any lessons on value investing you'd like to share? Any thoughts on how a deluge of information is affecting investing? Leave your thoughts in the comments area below!

Eric Bleeker owns shares of no companies listed above. Chesapeake Energy is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Fortune Brands is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Brookfield Asset Management is a Motley Fool Global Gains recommendation. Posco is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Chesapeake Energy and Kinetic Concepts. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. In its search for deep value, The Fool has a disclosure policy that never pays more than $6 for a haircut.