Back in January, I read an interesting interview on NPR.org with Clay Johnson, author of the book The Information Diet. He claims that like too much sugar and fat are harmful to our bodies, so is too much of the wrong kind of information harmful to our minds. I think this is an interesting idea, especially as we are in the Lenten season and I know of at least a couple people who have given up sites like Facebook for Lent. Johnson argues that you can go on the Internet and find all kinds of sites that affirm our thoughts and opinions. Not all of our ideas are right. Yet because we can locate these supportive websites, which may contain information that isn’t entirely truthful or accurate, we can then feel justified in our (wrong) beliefs. Yes, we can find affirmation out there on the web, but at what cost? Is this habit feeding into the notion that it’s better to be right with the aid of inaccurate information sources than to discover the truth and recognize why we are wrong?
Another interesting point Johnson makes is on the importance of your mouse clicks. He writes in The Information Diet,
“Just because your boss doesn’t see you looking at that Kim Kardashian post on The Huffington Post doesn’t mean that it’s not without consequence. When you click on it, you’re making it so that it’s more visible to other people. That means an information diet is something that’s of ethical consequence to you and others.”
Well, when you put it like that, maybe it is time for us to take a long hard look and what type of information we are clicking on. And that is exactly what reading this interview did for me. It encouraged me to consider my own information gathering habits. How do I us the Internet? What kind of sites do I visit for information?
Within a professional framework, Johnson’s arguments clearly identify why librarians are and will continue to be of great importance in this Digital Age. Here at Warner Library, we strive to teach and educate our Eastern community on how to best use the Internet. Ask any one of us librarians- if we had a dime for every time someone said to us “I’ll just Google it”, we could probably pay for the planned future Student Center. Think about it… Google generates their top link results based off of how many times that link was clicked. A site’s popularity doesn’t always translate into containing factual information.
I plan on reading Johnson’s book. Have you thought about your information diet lately?