I’ve been consuming too much. My brain is overwhelmed by the volume of information and the need to sift through it to extract some meaning.
On reflection much of what I’m feeding my brain is junk. The equivalent of intellectual fast food; easy to consume, seemingly satisfying but ultimately adding little. Essentially, I’ve been bingeing on crap information and as a result have become intellectually flabby.
So it’s time to shape up. It’s time I went on an information diet. Here’s how I'm changing my diet for 2018.
The thing with click-bait – its primary purpose - is to get you to click. So if you are looking for education and enlightenment is a click-bait article the best place to look?
But sometimes I can’t resist clicking on them and I’m almost always underwhelmed and annoyed at falling for the same tricks yet again. Of the hundreds of click-bait articles I read last year I only remembered one.
The next time I feel the need to read a click-bait article – 8 ways to give an awesome presentation – I’m going to write down my own advice beforehand. Then if the article is crap at least I'll have my own list of advice and if the article is good I’ll have an even better list.
There is too much to read and not enough time to read everything so how do you find the good stuff amongst the piles of garbage? Increasingly I’m relying on a small number of people and newsletters to surface articles across a range of categories.
I’ve recently culled this list and although I may miss some things I feel that is outweighed by not having to wade through so much crap.
I’m also addicted to the Quartz Daily Brief. It not only summarises the day’s key news headlines but it turns a spotlight on a range of curiosities and idiosyncratic passions. It’s a good breakfast for the brain.
There are only so many snacks you can consume. Sometimes I want to go deep on a subject and spend some time thinking about an issue or listening to an interesting voice and opinion. That is when I turn to books… and by books I don’t just mean business books. Great books can open up different perspectives and help you experience different lives.
The best book I’ve read about creativity was Rene Redzepi’s ‘Work in progress’. A journal about a year in the life of Noma the world’s best restaurant that I found on the shelf of a holiday Airbnb and was unable to put down.
Similarly, as a keen runner, I read ‘What I talk about when I talk about running’ by Haruki Murakami and was amazed by the way he articulated many of my own, unexpressed, feelings about running.
What connects both books is the voice of the author. They are at the top of their game and know what they want to say. As a result they don’t have to rely on big words and jargon. Their language is clear, crisp and transparent. And who’d not like to write like that?
I’d like to spend time with more books like those in 2018.
However, reading what you love and what interests you will only get you so far. The issue with filtering what you consume is you end up only reading what reflects your own prejudices. And we all know the impact of living too much in our own bubbles.
So in 2018 I am going to make more of a conscious effort to seek out different and alternative voices. People whose point of view I may disagree with or simply perspectives I hadn’t considered before - after all a good diet is a varied diet.
How are you changing your information diet in 2018? I’d love to hear your thoughts, recommendations and perspectives.
Paul is Global Head of Strategy at Vizeum. He is a Global Strategist with experience that spans a variety of sectors (CPG, Tech, Pharma and Finance) and disciplines (Media, Advertising, CRM and Sales Promotion). He is responsible for European Strategy across all Starcom Global Network Clients including Samsung, P&G, Coke, Airbnb, Novartis, Etihad, Mars. Paul holds a Bachelor in Biological Sciences, Zoology from the University of Oxford.