Information Pollution

I heard the phrase “information pollution” from Evgeny Morozov the other day and I think it perfectly captures what I’ve been thinking as I try to allocate more time to read and write and think during the day. It’s a grasping at the ability to have a cohesive thought, to formulate a thesis and make a case for an idea without being sidetracked and having my attention hijacked.

It fits with the concept of choice architecture and the behavioral underpinnings of an internet supported by advertising.

It’s the long tail, the power law, the Pareto distribution of garbage information to valuable information. Most of what is online, in the explosion of online “news”and social media is of “low value” and doesn’t contribute to a deeper understanding of any complex topic and primarily serves as a distraction to the exercise of thinking deeply about a specific topic.

It’s become more apparent to me as I try to save articles to read in the future (when I have time)  and also move deliberately through my book reading list. I’ve been more critical about what I’m spending time reading and I’m finding that articles that initially look interesting are in fact comprised of low value information.

I’ll try to write something longer after I think about this a bit more, but there’s something at the intersection of choice architecture, attentional focus and distraction.

This is great and well worth it (podcast):

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