Dealing with Infobesity and Information Overload


I think this is one of the greatest times in all of history. You can learn anything. You can get access to the best minds in any field.

You can instantly download kindle books, get book summaries, join online programs with dozens of hours of video and transcripts.

More and more online summits are offering dozens of hours of ‘free’ interviews if you just provide your email address.

On the other hand, I think many are experiencing what Alan Toffer in his book Future Shock called Infobesity way back in 1970. With recent advances in online publishing and the advancement of digital video technology, it will only continue accelerate in the future.

As an information creator and publishers, I think this topic is so important I have created a entire category for it on my blog.

How can we use information to better our life, community and the planet?

How can we develop strategies to deal with the sheer quantity of information that is available?

I believe that information has the power to change consciousness BUT it can have one of three effects. The first is the information is neutral, the second it can contribute to changing the state of a person into a negative state of consciousness and finally some information has the power to raise consciousness.

Lastly I think there is a much more extreme state whereby a person is so infobese that even good information has no value because the system is so overloaded it has no effect.

In this post I want to share  a few opening ideas that I think are important for anyone who wants to be a conscious consumer of information

Information Junk Food and Indigestion

I think if I look at infobesity, I reckon I’m overweight.

How did I get this way?

By taking in too much information junk food. What is information junk food?

I would group many standard media articles as junk food. I would group obsessive scanning Facebook and Twitter feeds here. I would also group many of the email communications that suck us into information vortexes.

If you talk to any productivity expert they will often start with a person’s strategy to work with email because it can be one of the biggest time wasters. A close second is how social media is used.

Another reason for infobesity is digestion. I am not sure if anyone has used the term information colonic, but I think a regular dump of what is not useful is important. Letting go of books that no longer serve and deleting information that is not longer useful is important.

It is not enough to just take information in, but it has to be digested and either turned into energy or expelled.

Information Nutrition

SAD or the Standard American Diet is what has caused many of the health and obesity problems. Without even talking about GMOs and the various additives, most of what you find in standard grocery stores is processed foods that are devoid of any nutritional value.

Likewise, many mainstream media sites offer the same information deficient content.

I think there are many great programs, books etc that have a very high nutritional value as there are many (or most) that have little or no value.

Here are five questions that can sort through what is being offered:

  1. How is it useful? There should be an obvious clear benefit for you. For example, often if you listen to interviews probably 90% of the information is fluff. I am not saying that story telling and understanding people is important, just often when you have a limited amount of time in the day, staying on call listening to someone do self-promotion may not be the best use of time.
  2. Is it education or entertainment? There is a big difference between information that helps to educate us and information that is just entertainment. Often the two are mixed together. What you have to be wary of is information that is being sold as education but in the end is just entertainment. I think a lot of weekend seminars fall into this category. They give people a jolt of energy but that is about it.
  3. Does it move me toward my goal or is it a distraction? This comes down to why we are consuming information. Often things like email and social media are distracting us from what is really important. They are ways that we can divert our attention from what we really need to do. Also, there is a corollary to this. With more and more information there tendancy for some to become an expert at everything. Often this is a failure strategy.
  4. Is it simple or complex? Simple is better and complex is complex. Most profound things in life are simple and have higher guiding principles that allow you to draw and use them in situations.
  5. Is it timeless? Not all information is meant to be timeless. That’s ok. Some information will stand the test of time. This is true in many fields where timeless information gets repeated often in a new and unique way – but it is essentially the same information. Other information is due to the fast changing nature of our society and may be out of date. It is not that it is less important but it does have a due date.

A Tidal Wave of New Information Products

New authors, writers and publishers are getting smarter. They are able to create new products quicker, faster and cheaper.

I think this is an good thing and an awesome opportunity both for creators and consumers.

There are many great experts and teachers now who are creating and offering amazing programs that are changing lives. In the past it was too expensive to create these AND you had to have distribution to get your product in front of people. The internet has changed all of that for the better.

It will be interesting to see how it all unfolds. I think the next frontier in innovation will be in learning technologies that will help us organize, learn and integrate information at a higher rate.

Please let me know what you think of this by making a comment. I think this is a work in progress.

What other questions would you add to the list?


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