Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Book Review: The Information Diet

Based on a friend's plugging it, I got pointed to The Information Diet, and thought it a suitable choice for first book of the year (well, among the first anyway, given that I have other ones going in parallel on paper/phone/audiobook).

I like the basic premise but thought the book was flawed in a couple of ways - so much so that I can't really recommend it, or at least caution would-be readers so they know what they are getting into.

The basic idea behind the book is that, given the quantity of information we have access to every day, it is easy to passively consume the easiest, but not necessarily the best, information. The author uses an analogy between modern food production giving us cheap, easy access to fat- and sugar-laden foods we crave, and, modern media production giving us cheap, easy access to titillating, easy-to-consume media. He argues that just as we encourage people to not eat too much, eat the right stuff, and understand where their food comes from, the same is true for the media as well.

I really like the analogy, but in stretching it out to a book, he both bloats it and stretches it beyond credibility. As well, he uses the book to cover a number of topics that stray from the "how" of information consumption and into advocating his view on politics. I agree with some of his views, but I just don't believe they belonged in this book.

Also, while there were some good tips on his "how" portion of the book, the author spent far too much time on the minutia of email filters, ad blockers, etc.

The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption

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