On A Diet of Information

So, the consumption of information is an interesting topic for me. It’s kind of crucial to have an understanding of it in order to run the Software Testing Club and The Testing Planet.

It’s part of the job of running a website, community and publication, isn’t it? I should understand how people are consuming information. How people consume. How they should be consuming. And generally good practices for creating and communicating content.

For The Testing Planet, it’s always been high on my agenda to produce quality/reviewed/edited content that isn’t published because an advertiser has paid money for it.   All to often (websites and publications in general) are swayed on extra marketing instead of focusing on producing quality content.  I can understand this, they have a business to run, but many of us choose to do business in different ways.  Our focus is on producing the best relevant content possible, we believe having paid and interested subscribers is an ideal model to work with  – for the readers and the sustainability of the publication.

Running an online community also brings it’s own challenges of ensuring that the members communicate and engage in an appropriate and useful way.  We have fairly strict standards on STC.

Whatever it is that we produce, there is never a right or wrong answer.  It appears to be constant (and fun!) challenges that we face.

I recently came across this video on SlowTech and I found myself nodding, smiling and saying ‘hey that’s me!’

It was quite timely as well as I had been reading something similar in Information Diet.  The book is interesting and takes an interesting slant on the current state of information, the web and how we consume – comparing it heavily towards obesity.  We are consuming too much information and alot of it isn’t good for us!

The book felt a bit more like a call to action to do something about how we think/consume/produce about information and data, rather than direct tips on how to deal with information.

What I took from Information Diet is…

  • We need to develop a way to ‘filter and process’ our personal approaches to consuming data.
  • Become better at data literacy – judging the source of content.  The author, for example, is in favour of some paid publications as a way to consume relevant information
  • We should work on our Attention Fitness – managing our time effectively and being able to switch off all those notifications when (email, social media, etc)
  • Global issues can paralyze us.  Yes they can be important, but often it makes sense to get more involved at a local level where you can actually do something about things.
  • Produce more than you consume.  Especially aimless consumption, where you go out and get lost in the interwebs.  Producing something is a great learning process, whether you publish it publicly or not.
Most of this isn’t really new information to me, but sometimes it’s useful to spend some time focusing and taking some action.
I made some notes on the Information Diet, as a MindMap 🙂
Information Diet MindMap

Practically, I’m starting to take small steps at improving my own information consumption and creation.  One of my current activities is unsubscribing from all those email marketing messages I never read.  It’s an interesting ‘challenge’, one that I’m being a bit obsessive about and taking screenshots of my experience.  I may share it soon!

I’m also making a very conscious choice to consume less, and use that time to create.  It’s partly why I’ve been blogging alot more recently 🙂