Noilly Prattle: Junkies

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


The Information Diet - Carl A. Johnson

If you Google “junkie” you come up with the usual Wikipedia headliner (or very near the top) followed closely by a listing of various kinds of junkies: sports junkies, romance junkies...urban dictionary junkies (?) but not, oddly enough, Google junkies. I, admittedly, am a Googler and Wikipedia devotee, but selectively so—of course. I am a discriminating junkie. 

So, what do I get from a friend in my email inbox recently but a link to a new kid on the block selling another self help book—this one for information junkies. It's called the The Information Diet, A Case for Conscious Consumption by Carl A. Johnson. An admitted food junkie, the portly but-you-should-have-seen-me-before Mr. Johnson compares overeating with the indiscriminate consumption of information (munching on sound bites perhaps?). 

If you're an information junkie you might want to get the book to learn how to wean yourself off of noshing on data junk. It isn't my intention to criticize the contents of the book since I haven't read it. Remember, I am a self-declared discriminating info consumer. I only consume what I choose selectively, which, according to Mr. Johnson's sales pitch cum lecture [link above], is what information dieting is all about. If I can do it, you can do it, too. 
The friend who sent me the link, I later learned, was thinking of Mr. Johnson's thinking as an extension of the theories of Marshall McLuhan in Understanding Media. Mr. McLuhan, you may remember (if you are old enough), predicted the advent of the Internet some 30 years in advance of his time. Prescient man that he clearly was, I, thinking of Mr. Johnson's book, wondered if Mr. McLuhan foresaw the way that modern marketing would manipulate media in an almost logical extension of his theories.

"The medium is the message" tells us that noticing change in our societal or cultural ground conditions indicates the presence of a new message, that is, the effects of a new medium. 
And if we discover that the new medium brings along effects that might be detrimental to our society or culture, we have the opportunity to influence the development and evolution of the new innovation before the effects becomes pervasive. **

Unfortunately, as the need for Mr. Johnson's book would indicate, the “effects of a new 
medium” have already become pervasive. We're all junkies now.

** What is the Meaning of The Medium is the Message?
by Mark Federman
Chief Strategist
McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology

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