You Need to Take Personal Responsibility for the Information You Consume
An information diet has to be about personal responsibility.
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.
The federal government has regulatory agencies for everything that we consume to make sure that those things don’t kill us, so for instance we have the Environmental Protection Agency to make sure that the air that we breathe and the water that we drink doesn’t kill us and we have the Food and Drug Administration and the United States Department of Agriculture that makes sure that the food that we eat doesn’t kill us.
But we don’t have a regulatory agency that makes sure that the information that we have is safe, and I don’t think we can ever have that because we have this pesky thing called the First Amendment, which is actually something that’s good and useful and important, but that prohibits the government from really regulating information too much.
Now there is a regulatory agency called the FCC, which does things like say you can’t swear on television, but that’s about the limit of their power and for very good reason and that’s why an information diet has to be about personal responsibility. It has to be about something that you take a personal responsibility for and an ethical responsibility for if you want to do well with it.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
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