La dieta informativa

Leí el libro de Clay Johnson, The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption (OReilly Media, Kindle Edition). No está mal, aunque esperaba mucho más. Sobre todo muchos más datos cuantitativos para sostener la idea de fondo: la clave no está en la abundancia de la información sino en el consumo excesivo. Una suerte de obesidad informativa que, según el autor, constituye una nueva forma de ignorancia. Me ahorro la reseña, y pego a continuación algunas de las frases que resalté en el libro.

The things we know about food have a lot to teach us about how to have a healthy relationship with information.

If we want our communities and our democracies to thrive, we need a healthier information diet.

if we give people access to government they will demand better government, they will vote differently, and the quality of politicians getting elected will improve.

… know we’re products of the food we eat. Why wouldn’t we also be products of the information we consume?

You’re likely to spend upwards of 11 hours per day consuming information—reading

Just as food companies learned that if they want to sell a lot of cheap calories, they should pack them with salt, fat, and sugar—the stuff that people crave—media companies learned that affirmation sells a lot better than information. Who wants to hear the truth when they can hear that they’re right?

Information diets give us new forms of ignorance

It took a century to double food production from 1820 levels to those in 1920. It took just 30 years to double it again, between 1920 and 1950. It took 15 years from 1950 to 1965, and 10 between 1965 and 1975. Food production has continued to grow exponentially as science and the demand for food has caused our agricultural industry to industrialize.

This drive and industrialization is necessary, actually. By 2050, the UN estimates, we’ll need to double our food production again to maintain projected population growth.

As of this writing, 681 books have been released in the past 30 days, with another 112 coming soon. In the first six months of 2011, more than 2,000 books on weight-loss were released. lists nearly 20,000 books available for purchase on diets.

Blaming a medium or its creators for changing our minds and habits is like blaming food for making us fat.

…is that information is not requiring you to consume it. It can’t: information is no more autonomous than fried chicken, and it has no ability to force you to do anything as long as you are aware of how it affects you.

It’s not information overload, it’s information overconsumption that’s the problem. Information overload means somehow managing the intake of vast quantities of information in new and more efficient ways. Information overconsumption means we need to find new ways to be selective about our intake.

The mistaken concept of information overload distracts us from paying attention to behavioral changes.

“For 200 years the newspaper front page dominated public thinking. In the last 20 years that picture has changed. Today television news is watched more often than people read newspapers, than people listen to radio, than people read or gather any other form of communication. The reason: people are lazy. With television you just sit-watch-listen. The thinking is done for you.” —Anonymous memo, Nixon Presidential Archives Largely attributed to Roger Ailes, Nixon Campaign Staffer and now FOX News Chairman

It’s a new kind of ignorance epidemic: information obesity.