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Cute metaphor but misleading and incomplete
on January 22, 2012
"Information Diet" is a clever metaphor, and there are some interesting parallels, but ultimately the author stretches it too thin.
However, this is where the author's analogy begins to disintegrate. Yes, all information has a consumption chain: raw data, facts, trends, expert analysis, headlines and tabloids. However, to say that a "healthy information diet" is one that gets all, or most of its data at the source ("raw"), is simply misleading. Yes, experts add their own "seasoning" through their analysis, but unlike a refined carbon chain, which is only broken down the further it is processed, information and knowledge has this curious potential property of being enriched with further analysis! Not always, mind you - potential, is the key word.
In fact, the very reason I bought this book (and likely, you are considering as well) is that I implicitly assumed that the author has spent the time and effort to process, assimilate, and think through all the implications of his metaphor. In other words, we expect a "highly processed" work, distilled to its very essence - nothing but the good stuff. Unfortunately, that doesn't appear to be the case. Instead, we are treated to several chapters on food processing with a weak connection to our "information diet", and a few examples of CNN vs. Fox in the news. Disappointing.
With the fear of stretching the metaphor too thin, how about answering the following questions:
- what are, or should be, the nutrients in our information diet? Politics vs. technology vs. hundreds of other topics.
- how does one not over-consume and optimize each category?
- how does one seek out new sources and fields that you may not be easily exposed to?
And the list goes on... Unfortunately "Information Diet" answers none of it.