There was a buzz a couple of months ago about a book called “The Information Diet“. Many bloggers had read it and were making comments about how today’s unprecedented access to information might not be such a great thing.
Having experienced an amazing boost of time when I tried Tim Ferriss’s media fast, I wanted to read the book and see what it said.
Written By A Washington Insider
The book is written by a former Washington insider, who after a stint on the Howard Dean campaign, decided to provide a way for Americans to get good quality information. “If we could show America with hard facts that their Congress was being bought off, surely that would spur them to action.” His bright-eyed optimism quickly faded.
American Junk Information
As it turns out, information comes in types, just like food does. There is the information that sustains us, nourishes us, and allows us to make good decisions. And then there is the junk information, which like junk food, fills us up with what we think we want, leaving us hungry and wondering why.
According to UC-San Diego, the amount of information the American home consumes per day is in the petabyte range (1 petabyte = 1 million gigabtyes). That’s a lot of information, and according to the author, it is overloading us.
Is Providing Better Information The Cure?
So if the majority of the information is junk, shouldn’t there just be better information available? As the author himself said, “you cannot simply flood the market with broccoli and hope that people stop eating french fries.”
In his theory, information intake needs to be monitored just as food does. We have to learn how to discern what is good, learn how much to consume, or we risk growing fat and lazy (mentally).
So What’s This Got To Do With Simplicity?
You may be wondering why I chose to review this book on the blog. It is simply because I feel that too much information is detrimental to getting things done. In fact, I believe that too much information coming into our lives is actually a complicating factor and prevents many people from making progress. There are too many choices and so we continue to seek the alternatives.
When I read The 4-Hour Work Week, I tried the media fast. I stayed away from television, news sites, magazines and books. I some ways this was a good thing; I found that I eliminated a lot of time spent reading about things I didn’t really care about. But I missed my leisure time activity of reading very badly, and so the fast fell by the wayside.
I realized how slanted things became when a big issue in my home state was being reported completely differently here than what my mother was getting. I was left in shock after one conversation where she quoted the news and came down on a side of the issue against the very people who were paying her pension. I sent her links to what I was seeing in the news, and she was astounded.
I knew I had to find a better way of getting to the heart of the issues I cared about. I had to be allowed to make my own opinions, and not be spoon fed by some talking head.
The Information Diet shows me how to do that, and in the course of learning how to feed myself good information I find that my media intake is much better for me, and the quantity still leaves me able to focus on what truly matters to me.
If you are concerned about the amount or quality of information you are taking in, I recommend you to read The Information Diet. It is a good read for those in pursuit of a healthy intake of information.
Book: The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption
Author: Clay A Johnson
Publisher: O’Reilly Media