- Paperback: 164 pages
- Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (July 30, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781491933398
- ISBN-13: 978-1491933398
- ASIN: 1491933399
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Customer Reviews: 84 customer ratings
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,186,468 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Comsumption 1st Edition
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About the Author
Clay Johnson is best known as the founder of Blue State Digital, the firm that built and managed Barack Obama's online campaign for the presidency in 2008. After leaving Blue State, Johnson was the director of Sunlight Labs at the Sunlight Foundation, where he built an army of 2000 developers and designers to build open source tools to give people greater access to government data. He was awarded the Google/O'Reilly Open Source Organizer of the year in 2009, was one of Federal Computer Week's Fed 100 in 2010.
The range of Johnson's experience with software development, politics, entrepreneurism, and working with non-profits gives him a unique perspective on media and culture. His life is dedicated to giving people greater access to the truth about what's going on in their communities, their cities, and their governments.
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Johnson's model of using information as being akin to a true diet is prescient. The comparisons between obesity in physical form and the problems we have socially making decisions is outlandish at first blush, but more insightful with every page you read. At times, the comparison gets so detailed that it gets a little overwhelming and sometimes sidetracks the narrative a bit. This is a small issue.
In the end, the book comes with some rather obvious recommendations that almost need to be said, but are likely difficult to follow. Like food, information is social and that is where many of the problems and solutions lie. This is a harder, more complicated area to cover in recommendations without getting into silly motherhood statements and wide, sweeping, unrealistic policy ideas. But nonetheless, this book will get you thinking about what you feed your eyes, ears and brain next time you go online, read a billboard, see a TV show or listen to the radio.
I was hoping the content would be more in the way of practical techniques and tools to analyze and improve my information consumption, however the book is light in this area.
I did come away with some practical learnings that I was able to apply, and I don't regret the read (its easy and fast), but I think my expectations were higher than what was actually delivered. Perhaps I got over-hyped reading about it in WIRED (that was what lead me to download it to my Kindle Fire).
I suggest just speaking to someone who read it -- you'll get a cliff-notes version that will give you the salient points without the cost or time spend.
It's worth mentioning it is indeed a very long essay (as some complain), still, a very well written essay: the text flows effortlessly, the ideas have the necessary citations and the conclusions are very linear and clear.
After having read it, I have to say that I liked the book, and I found both Clay's argumentation and the data he used to back up his main thesis, quite interesting. However it was a bit unbearable for me to read about US politics. Perhaps this is because I don't enjoy politics much, and mostly by the fact I don't live in the US.
Nevertheless, the ideas behind all of this politic argumentation, are somewhat general, and can apply to my native country, where there exist also a kind of dichotomy of two parties (the most powerful ones), and in the same way it's possible to identify the tree flavors of ignorance that leads to information obesity: agnotology, epistemic closure, and filter failure, in the voters.
Summarizing, I enjoyed the book, and besides the politic dying of it, I would recommend its reading since it's full of interesting ideas, and it's a rather good work... I'll surely re-read it again (although just the second part of the book), since I'd like to review his view of data literacy, and other interesting thoughts.
Top international reviews
Wichtigste Erkenntnisse aus dem Buch für mich: 1. Weniger Informationen konsumieren, und dafür lieber selber Informationen fabrizieren. 2. Wenn schon Informationen konsumieren, dann bitte möglichst aus erster Hand und nicht aus dritter Hand.