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The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption

3.43  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,426 Ratings  ·  217 Reviews
The modern human animal spends upwards of 11 hours out of every 24 in a state of constant consumption. Not eating, but gorging on information ceaselessly spewed from the screens and speakers we hold dear. Just as we have grown morbidly obese on sugar, fat, and flour—so, too, have we become gluttons for texts, instant messages, emails, RSS feeds, downloads, videos, status u ...more
Hardcover, 150 pages
Published January 20th 2012 by O'Reilly (first published January 1st 2011)
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Rebecca Schwarz
Sep 27, 2012 Rebecca Schwarz rated it liked it
Shelves: dnf
I'm giving this three stars because there are a few people I can think of that should read this for the distinction he makes between good information and junk information. And for his theory about our tendency to over-consume information and all things Internet just like we tend to over-consume junk food.

It's not getting more stars because it's really a great long-form essay that's been padded out to a slim book. Ironically, this book would have been better if it had gone on a diet!
May 08, 2012 Alexander rated it really liked it
I'm sad to see so many people here quibbling over the food/obesity analogy. Here's what I think of the analogy: it doesn't matter. Yeah, it doesn't work in some ways, but who cares? Most metaphors don't. The issue raised by this book is the most important issue facing America today. I'm not prone to hyperbole, I really believe that.

I'm giving this book 4 stars despite the following:
1) The book contains a surprising number of grammatical errors.
2) The entire 'prescription' section is weak (i.e.
Feb 24, 2015 Abdullahi rated it it was amazing
Book Review Assignment: The Information Diet


John Clay, an author, activist, and a former Washington insider, wrote, the Information Diet, a book that he wants to persuade his readers on how we must consume and process information in the wake of the 21st century. John addresses the transformation that has happened to the information cycle, and the necessity to shift along with, in order to avoid many possible negative consequences. John hopes to achieve this, through the use of an e
Jan 29, 2012 Trevor rated it it was ok
Shelves: pop-sci, politics
Information - you're doing it wrong.

Clay Johnson's book is about the information you take in, and the effects it has on you and society. Using the analogy of food and nutrition, he argues that the data we are consuming is the equivalent of processed food, full of fats, salt, sugar, and all other sorts of nasties.

His ire falls on the multitude of websites pushing bite-sized snippets of junk out into the world, the headlines that enrage more than enlighten, the link-bait trash that we seem powerle
Jun 14, 2015 Bdalton rated it liked it
Sundown on Friday, March 23 marks the beginning of the third annual Day to Disconnect, when people are urged to turn off their electronic devices and connect with the world around them. Started by a Jewish group called Reboot, the group recommends that the following principles be followed:

Avoid technology.
Connect with loved ones.
Nurture your health.
Get outside.
Avoid commerce.
Light candles.
Drink wine.
Eat bread.
Find silence.
Give back.

I would also add "take action to be a more concious co
Joaquín Padilla
Feb 03, 2012 Joaquín Padilla rated it liked it
I must say the book has a monotonous descending slope. The first part, based in the parallels between the food industry and the information industry, equated by mass production farming, huge disconnection between sources and markets, and an unbalanced trade-off between nutritiousness and sinful pleasures, makes a compelling case.

However, from that first, well argumented point of view, it seems quite likely that the author didn't spend the same time with the other parts of the book, and that he t
Apr 27, 2012 nicole rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
A call to action for better information habits combined with a recommended information diet.

Moderation, moderation, moderation -- the key to everything, it seems, yet so easy to forget when you have to check your tweets and Facebook and Pinterest and have three (or four) digit numbers in your RSS unread folder only to loop through it again and again, in between personal e-mails and work e-mails and television shows between Netflix movies.
Johnson's political perspective provided an interesting f
Ian Samuel
Jan 10, 2012 Ian Samuel rated it did not like it
This is a skinny-fat volume of pop neurology. Or, no, wait: it's a series of short paragraphs from a time management seminar in 2007. Wait, no. It's a pat paen to openness in government (sorta) and citizen activism (of a sort). Hmm, well... Truth to tell, it's best to think of this book as three long essays, none of which have virtually anything to do with one another, all three of which are significantly longer than they ought to be, and most of which are pockmarked with poor writing and outrig ...more
Kevin Faustino
Jan 06, 2012 Kevin Faustino rated it it was ok
I wish I didn't waste my time reading this book. It is heavly focused on politics and has little benifit to the reader. The only chapter really well done was the one about content farms.

Do yourself a favour and skip this one. I would just look at the list of helpful tools from the blog:

Jan 08, 2012 Stringy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone with too many feeds, podcasts or sources of info to keep up with
Shelves: e-book
A quick, thought-provoking read that left me wanting more. But as Johnson points out, we're dealing with a new phenomenon so the ways forward from here haven't all been discovered yet.

We often speak about 'information overload', but since the invention of the printing press hundreds of years ago there has always been more information available than one person could consume in a lifetime. Johnson suggests that 'information obesity' is a better metaphor for what we face today: junk factoids pushe
David Park
When I began rationing (and rationalizing) my internet usage because I was spending too much time on the Internet I realized this was fundamentally about how I process information - email, Facebook, and link hopping.

CAJ says to treat your information like food. In Part One he makes the argument of comparing information to food and why we enjoy consuming so much of both. My favorite part was that consuming the same 'junk' information will strengthen our 'reality dysmorphia,' a cognitive version o
Dec 20, 2012 Carl rated it liked it
Shelves: info-literacy
The Information Diet is a strong analysis of the problems with our information consumption that falters as it seeks to find a solution. The book is built around a central metaphor: our problems with information are like our problems with obesity in that, like with food, it's not a matter of consuming too much but a matter of consuming too much that is low-quality, nutritionally-empty, but cheap and "tasty." In this case, this information equivalent of junk food is fear-mongering and affirmation ...more
Jun 25, 2012 Carie rated it liked it
This book is worth reading. I appreciated that it was short, which is rare in nonfiction.

The premise of the book is basically this: "Consume deliberately. Take information over affirmation."

You may not agree with this author on every point. He is after all, a liberal democrat. Gasp! (I like that he openly admits his biases.) I especially enjoyed his personal stories. His "delusion" while working on the Dean campaign (his word, not mine.) His surprise friendship with Carl Rove, who for most liber
Henk-Jan van der Klis
Nov 11, 2012 Henk-Jan van der Klis rated it it was amazing
New Year's Resolution for 2013: stay healthy regarding your information consumption. Study and practice The Information Dietby Clay Johnson. Johnson helps you to make choices to avoid information overconsumption. His first claim: information overload doesn't exist, just as food overload is nonexistent. It's the amount and - more important - quality that you consume, that makes or breaks your (mental) health. The author digs this metaphor over and over again and shares good practices for better i ...more
Jan 14, 2012 Nathan rated it really liked it
Shelves: popcomp
Watch what you put in your mind, just as you watch what you put in your mouth. Be deliberate, lest you waste your life and accidentally become stupid. Look to modern thinking on food to guide how you consume information. That's Clay's thesis in a nutshell, and most of the book is a component-by-component elaboration on the food=information metaphor, culminating in Clay's advice on how to be a discriminating thoughtful and measured information consumer. He says things I agree with, yet I have res ...more
Katie Nolan
May 15, 2015 Katie Nolan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: xdo-not-finish
I watched "Better Activism" livestream organized by Clay Johnson the other day and found him very intelligent and thoughtful. So despite my reservations regarding the moralistic sound of the title, I decided to at least read the Kindle sample.

Full disclosure - I have read only the sample, and I will not be reading more. I think his core idea - that more information is not necessarily better information, and that we should be conscious of the information we consume - is sound, but the metaphor he
Mike Vardy
Dec 28, 2012 Mike Vardy rated it really liked it
Whether you spend time online or offline, we are getting hit with a ton of information each and every day. How we deal with that information is fundamental to our lives; what we choose take in can strongly impact our way we see the world. Johnson’s book is a meaty read, and might be tough to digest for some people. But it’s a healthy one as well.

I can’t think of many books that are more important to check out, no matter the time of year. While a nutritional lifestyle change is often fodder for m
Stacy Taylor
Mar 20, 2012 Stacy Taylor rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2012, nonfiction
This was basically a regurgitation of The Filter Bubble and The Shallows, both of which were superior books. While there were some good sources for information, the primary message was not so much one of how to deal with information overload (or information obesity as the author calls it) as one of how to be better informed so you can be a better citizen and be more involved in politics. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but that's not why I picked this book. Overall, the book was scattered, a ...more
Peter Tripp
Mar 27, 2016 Peter Tripp rated it liked it
I think my biggest issue with this book is it's inability to neither be intellectually hard hitting nor suggest pushing your limits. It's like a diet book who suggests you first count cupcakes, then limit yourself to 1 cupcake and hour then finally after a month cut back to only 4 cupcakes a day. In reality a cupcake a day is far too many, and entertaining higher consumption is malpractice.

Accepting Walter Mischel (Marshmallow test) and Baumeister (Willpower), Hurley (Inside Jokes) and Ferris (F
Chung Chin
Jul 16, 2014 Chung Chin rated it did not like it
Shelves: curiosity
I picked up this book wanting to learn HOW i can consciously consume information, but this is not the right book to pick up. So, perhaps the 1-star rating by me is unfair, as my expectation was wrong to begin with. However, I maintain my rating as I find the book uninspiring and tepid.

This is a book where Clay Johnson puts forward the case for conscious consumption (as indicated in his title). A big chunk of his book is dedicated to convince readers that there is a need, an urgent and important
Jun 20, 2015 Crystal rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book helped me realize that I'm a dopamine fiend. That is, my getting stuck in those facebook-gmail-text loops is me waiting for another notification, which feels good to get. The author suggests setting aside certain times of day to check email, which I should really do. The author did bring in his own political opinions, which I didn't care to know, but the rest the book is concise enough.
Jul 14, 2016 Pete rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption (2012) by Clay Johnson describes how we should view our information consumption somewhat like our diet and be careful what we take in.

The book starts off by describing how Johnson worked on the Howard Dean campaign and how within that campaign the view of what was going on was not realistic. He parlays this into looking at how we live in media bubbles and often wind up browsing the net reading listicles instead of working. There are lots of
Jul 14, 2012 Tina rated it liked it
Shelves: business
The best section in the book is when he says we don't suffer from information overload - rather it's information consumption. We make choices, which is why I'm not available 24/7. I simply don't want to be connected all the time.
Dec 15, 2015 Adam rated it liked it
Interesting read. For me, he was preaching to the choir as I've all but quit reading the internet for anything other than specific research.

What really struck me was the recommendation to replace some of your consumption with production. People so often define themselves by what they consume. Pop culture conventions are better attended than ever before so people can revel in the things they love to watch, read, and listen to. I think we are missing out on half the experience of art and informati
Christie Martel
Dec 18, 2012 Christie Martel rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. As an information professional I can completely understand his argument/philosophy.
And, come on, he quotes Michael Pollan... How can you not like that?
Diego Petrucci
Dec 30, 2012 Diego Petrucci rated it liked it
Un'ottima idea di fondo, realizzazione mediocre. A volte dati i capitoli molto brevi pare di leggere una cosa poco strutturata e più "flusso di pensieri".
Jul 13, 2013 Romany rated it liked it
I've come across these ideas elsewhere, but this was a very readable way in which to consume them.
David Haller
Jan 16, 2015 David Haller rated it liked it
The book is divided into two sections: the first posits a theory of information consumption which is essentially a dietary metaphor, and the second is a useful set of ideas and resources for becoming less a passive consumer of information and more an active participant in its gathering and analysis.

I'd prefer a more incisive, neuroscientific approach the the former; the latter IS an excellent resource, and has some thought-provoking commentary. It's worth reading, especially considering its brev
Benjamin DeHaven
Mar 08, 2014 Benjamin DeHaven rated it liked it
I was brought to this book by poor information-which is amazing in itself. It was suggested to me by a publisher and was not the information I had set out to originally find. That being said-I thought it started strong with ideas, but then slowed and I found myself struggling to get back into it. I think its worth a look, but unless you have a desire to use the book as a thesis for an argument, or are really interested in the idea behind the consumption of information-might not be for you. I thi ...more
Leo Polovets
Jul 06, 2012 Leo Polovets rated it really liked it
The premise of the book is great: technology is stealing our time and attention with its ubiquity, its endless notifications, and its collections of Tweets and Likes and emails. We should be more disciplined and reclaim some of our time. Great idea, right? It would be if the writing were a bit tighter (this could easily be 50 pages instead of 200) and it the dieting analogy wasn’t overdone. I get that in many ways our information consumption is like our food consumption — we eat things we like a ...more
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2016 Reading Chal...: The Information Diet by Clay Johnson 1 13 May 04, 2015 01:48PM  
HyperLibMOOC: Information Diet - Clay Johnson 4 11 Sep 29, 2013 08:31PM  
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  • Book: A Futurist's Manifesto
  • The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding From You
  • I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did: Social Networks and the Death of Privacy
  • Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science
  • Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age is Revolutionizing Life, Business, and Society
  • The Social Life of Information
  • Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?: The Net's Impact on Our Minds and Future
  • Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age
  • The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It
  • The Anarchist in the Library: How the Clash Between Freedom and Control Is Hacking the Real World and Crashing the System
  • Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy
  • From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism
  • Expect More: Demanding Better Libraries For Today's Complex World
  • Content: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright, and the Future of the Future
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“Chances are, if we can't laugh at something, we can't think rationally about it.” 5 likes
“Nobody has a maximum amount of storage for fat, and it’s unlikely that we have a maximum capacity for knowledge.” 1 likes
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