Avoiding the Yoyo Info Diet

Information_overload1.jpg

I’ve been spending far too much time consuming empty scraps of webpages lately and far too little on books and media that matter to me, not to mention this book I’ve been trying to write. I’ve decided to start one of those regimes called an “information diet” – a misnomer, because most literal diets don’t work, but this figurative one might.

My initial rules

  1. Purge my Pocket account, keeping only articles related to work and writing, and those of intense interest. Pocket articles are normally synced to my ereader and my phone, as well as available on my laptop.
  2. “Pocket Zero”: Only add more articles to Pocket when I’ve emptied the current batch.
  3. Create a “tbr” tag on Pinboard for articles I think I’ll really want to read later. Come back and see if I do.
  4. Stop skimming RSS feeds (more than 90 minutes a day). Take The Old Reader out of my browser menu.
  5. Stop surfing new book listings. Take them out of the browser menu too.
  6. Delete my perpetual “emacs” keyword search in Twitter. Replace it with a select list of Emacs glitterati (for example, Sacha Chua).
  7. Postpone starting any games that will consume a lot of time, no matter how fun they look. Examples: Hadean Lands, Dwarf Fortress.

My initial results

In my first Pocket purge, I managed to reduce the number of articles in Pocket by 90%, from around 2000 articles to around 180 (step 1). I also completed steps 2-7.

Thus, I was able to carry out every step of my plan, but it has only been a couple of days. We’ll see whether my new regime is nourishing enough that I don’t enter into that kind of counterproductive databinge/purge/binge cycle.

There is always ever more interesting and useful information than you can access. Where you stop is arbitrary.

For the (akashic) record, I started trying to quit caffeine this morning. Who knows? Perhaps the two efforts will potentiate each other.


Photo by Jorge Franganillo (Flickr: Information overload) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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One thought on “Avoiding the Yoyo Info Diet

  1. We’re always increasing, decreasing or moving around our information streams and it doesn’t seem to help. I think there’s a deeper problem. No matter what stream you put where, they all have the same basic character: They’re some stream of information from the internet that YOU, a mere human, thought at some point would be interesting (contextually in the context you placed it in). There’s nothing wrong with that strategy except that we’re bad at it. The weak link is the human who decides which things are important.

    I don’t think that means it’s entirely a lost cause, but I do think it means we need a very different strategy. I think we have to work together in groups to decide about information streams. That loosens that bottleneck of the weakness of human judgment, by allowing slow careful judgments to improve the information quality for the whole group (so that the increased reward can make it rational to devote larger amounts of time to improving information quality).

    Like

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