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Robert Schwab

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"Feasting on Junk Info": Media in the Internet Age

Posted: 02/ 7/2012 12:30 pm

There is one story in the Sunday Denver Post you should not miss, a piece in the Perspective section headlined: "We are feasting on junk info," by Clay Johnson, who originally wrote the piece for the Los Angeles Times.

"When you click on the computer, remember that clicks have consequences," Johnson wrote.

And he's more than right.

The information explosion brought on by the Internet, the engine powering this very blog, has caused a lot of wasted time, wasted reading, and a worldwide degradation of human comprehension, a true understanding of what we know and don't know about the world.

The reason for that last gargantuan opinion is that the Internet has changed our reading and writing habits. Even this blog is written short for a reason. I, the writer, am afraid I cannot hold your attention for longer than the time it takes you to read the words I put down here.

That's first a function of my writing skill, but secondly a realization that "writing short" is the style that has evolved for writing on the Internet.

If you read the daily emailed news report from the New York Times and only glance at the headlines and read the blurb rather than click through the link for the full story for fear you might have to pay for it -- "clicks have consequences" -- you now understand what I am writing about.

Johnson says it better:

"Our news is largely provided by conglomerates focused on the bottom line, and they have figured out that shrill opinions and celebrity hype draw more eyes than facts and substance. To the handful of billion-dollar corporations providing much of our news, journalistic integrity equals market inefficiency. Fear, opinion and gossip are less expensive to manufacture and draw bigger audiences than the truth."

If you haven't clicked on the link to the full Johnson column in the Post that I provided above, you should do it now so you can comprehend the fullness of his argument.

Johnson also is the author of The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption, and he has written the column not only to further the argument of his book, but also to market the tome by seizing some space in the Los Angeles newspaper, and now the Denver newspaper as well.

That's how you market books and yourself nowadays. By adding to the information feast Johnson complains about; a surfeit that this blog, too, tries to become part of, a tasty appetizer included occasionally on my readers' information menu.

Hope you enjoy.

And by the way, I was serious about the Johnson piece being the one piece in all the Sunday Post that you wouldn't want to miss.

 

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