Cover image for The Information Diet

Book description

The modern human animal spends upwards of 11 hours out of every 24 in a state of constant consumption. Not eating, but gorging on information ceaselessly spewed from the screens and speakers we hold dear. Just as we have grown morbidly obese on sugar, fat, and flour—so, too, have we become gluttons for texts, instant messages, emails, RSS feeds, downloads, videos, status updates, and tweets.

We're all battling a storm of distractions, buffeted with notifications and tempted by tasty tidbits of information. And just as too much junk food can lead to obesity, too much junk information can lead to cluelessness. The Information Diet shows you how to thrive in this information glut—what to look for, what to avoid, and how to be selective. In the process, author Clay Johnson explains the role information has played throughout history, and why following his prescribed diet is essential for everyone who strives to be smart, productive, and sane.

Table of Contents

  1. Dedication
  2. Special Upgrade Offer
  3. Preface
    1. We’d Like to Hear from You
    2. Safari® Books Online
    3. Acknowledgments
  4. I. Introduction
    1. 1. Lessons from Obesity
      1. A Modern Epidemic
      2. The Birth of Industrial Agriculture
      3. A New Set of Consequences
      4. The Modern Diet
    2. 2. Information, Power, and Survival
      1. Knowledge Is Power
        1. The Arguments Against Progress
      2. There Is No Such Thing as Information Overload
    3. 3. Big Info
      1. Choice Lessons
        1. The New Media
        2. The New Journalists
      2. Seek and We Shall Profit
        1. Churnalism
    4. 4. We Are What We Seek
      1. Reality Dysmorphia
      2. This MSNBC Is Going Straight to My Amygdala
      3. Search Frenzy
    5. 5. Welcome to Information Obesity
      1. Confident Ignorance
      2. Agnotology
      3. Epistemic Closure
      4. Filter Failure
    6. 6. The Symptoms of Information Obesity
      1. The Connection Between Obesities
      2. Apnea
      3. Poor Sense of Time
      4. Attention Fatigue
      5. Loss of Social Breadth
      6. Distorted Sense of Reality
      7. Brand Loyalty
        1. Symptoms and Severity
  5. II. The Information Diet
    1. 7. Data Literacy
      1. Search
      2. Filter
      3. Creation
      4. Synthesis
    2. 8. Attention Fitness
      1. Willpower
      2. Measurement
      3. Elimination
      4. Training
      5. Distractibility Can Be Good
    3. 9. A Healthy Sense of Humor
    4. 10. How to Consume
      1. Consume Consciously
        1. Keeping It Clean
      2. Consume Locally
      3. Low-Ad
      4. Diversity
      5. Balance
      6. Support and Fine Tuning
  6. III. Social Obesity
    1. 11. The Participation Gap
      1. The Scalability Problem
      2. Transparency
        1. Transparency’s Dark Side
        2. Transparency’s Potential
      3. Bridging the Gap
      4. Political Infoveganism
    2. A. A Special Note: Dear Programmer
    3. B. Further Reading
      1. People
      2. Books
      3. Blogs
  7. About the Author
  8. Special Upgrade Offer
  9. Copyright