Clay Johnson hammered it in deeply: we need to behave differently, or we will information obese. Author and technologist, Johnson has a fabulous track record in advocating open source information, and governmental tactical transparency. He just launched a website called InfoVegan.com and wrote The Information Diet. Johnson is afraid that an overload of information, mostly junk, will have a disastrous effect on our society, and on us, humans.
Johnson is convinced that the automation and industrialization of the media and the thoughtless consumption of it creates an obesity based on information overload and mass-ignorance. He advises a better “diet”. “There is a strange shift” he claims: “In the past, ignorance was stooled on a blatant lack of information, now an uncontrolled flood of information triggers the same thing.” He points an accusing finger to some of the bigger thinkers in society, journalists and influencers who are more obsessed by increasing clicks and hits and likes than focusing on the quality and trustworthiness of the info that gets released. “For publications, it seems that concentrating on quality is a lost effort: clearly, it does not pay…” That is why he believes we have a collective responsibility in keeping it healthy: “if we all go on an info diet, the media world will be less obese”.
In his book, he gives a clear path towards a healthy content lifestyle: he urges everyone to write at least 500 words before breakfast: “Be a creator. Be a producer. Set yourself in the state of mind of someone who has something to share. Don’t start your day as a content junkie.” He also advocates to time the periods of media consumption, to switch mail and mobile off on set times, to “go of the web for a couple of hours.” In reducing the time spent immersed in information, he believes we will become more critical on what we consume. “We eat three times a day, do the same thing for media consumption: schedule it!”
Johnson also pleads for more clever content consumption: who is feeding you content, and why. Are they left, right? Is the information biased? Can we verify? “Be a conscious consumer of information, seek information rather than blind affirmation of beliefs you already hold to be true. We need an information diet for more critical, healthier media that starts informing again instead of persuading. We need this diet to re-cultivate a culture of healthy suspicion and common sense.”