Getting Quality Information is About Staying Healthy
The key to a healthy information diet is understanding that this stuff is about your health, not about productivity or politics or fact-checking.
Clay Johnson, author of The Information Diet, is best known as the co-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 Computing Week’s Fed 100 in 2010, and won the CampaignTech Innovator award in 2011.
Johnson’s combination of experience as a developer, working in politics, entrepreneurism, and non-profit work 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. He still claims that he learned all he needs to know from a two year tour as the late-shift waiter at Waffle House in Atlanta, GA.
I think [the key to a healthy information diet] is understanding that this stuff is about your health, not about productivity or politics or fact checking. It’s about your personal individual health and I think that having a healthy information diet will actually make you live longer and having a poor information diet will kill you faster.
So looking at these problems through the lens of health rather than through the lens of media or productivity is I think the first step in doing that. That’s an admittedly vague answer, but there are some pretty practical tips that you can do too. Minimize the amount of time that you spend sitting is something that’s going to keep you alive longer. Schedule the time that you spend with your media such that you don’t get lost in it.
Twenty years ago if you wanted to watch a television show you had to make an appointment with it, but now you’re favorite television shows are on whenever you want them to be, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make an appointment with them still. So block out time to have a healthy relationship with information and then finally, stick closer to the facts. If a news organization isn’t providing you source material don’t use that news organization. Use one that will and that will make all of media change after awhile, just like our food business is starting to change as people seek out closer to source foods.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
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