The era of massive information

Today more than ever, we’re hooked. We’ve got to stay connected, right? The need to stay up to date is taking over us. We have to stay connected to what is going on and not miss a single bit of information, as it might be that piece of information that is so important for us to know. If we don’t, then others will look at us as an out-dated machine that needs to be replaced. Thus, we convince ourselves that we ought to stay super-connected.

Especially in the tech and startup space, a world of constant innovation (or so we like to think). We don’t want to left behind, don’t want to miss a thing, don’t want to overlook the latest technology that was published. Maybe we’re missing the hottest new startup, new app, new wearable, new fashion trend, and new “you name it.”

Thus, sometimes we just review and consume all this massive data out of fear (and not curiosity necessarily). We don’t want to miss a thing and then be treated by other as an obsolete iOS/Android version that nobody uses anymore.

So, since we have very little time and lots of data to consume, what do we do? You’ve got that right Johnny boy: go to a fast food restaurant! We start to consume via Twitter feed, Linkedin, Facebook feed, Flipboard, Facebook Paper app, and many more.

But would it be right to stop for a moment before we enter this race, and contemplate whether we’re actually running in the right direction?

Enter the low information diet.

There are a few prominent figures in the low information diet discussion. Two of them are Tim Ferris (The 4 hours work week), and James Altucher (Choose me). Altucher takes it to an extreme when he adopts the following approach: “Around 6 PM I shut down all screens. No computer, phone, TV. No more eating for the day. I read, relax, maybe take a walk by the river. By 8 or 8:30 I’m in bed reading and quickly fall asleep. Then I wake up around 5:30 and begin reading and by 7, I’m writing.”       

It seems that the more we examine it, a certain similarity arises. Information, just like food, should be consumed in a very certain way: quality matters more, quantity less and timing is key.

Let’s try to examine why the biggest conceptions are invalid and why we might want to switch gears and go to a different ‘modus operandi’: the LOW information diet.


Convention #1- you’ll miss the technology innovation.    

Reality #1: Use the power of collective wisdom, take the multivitamin.


If something is big enough, you’ll probably hear about it. From friends, colleagues, peers, etc.

Only if the topic then is pertinent to your space or close interests, you can delve further into the topic and continue into “processing” more data to study more about it.

What you want is to learn the information from your peers that have already processed masses of information and they can distill the information for you, so you’ll get the concise version of it- your version of “executive summary.”

I’m not saying you should become an ascetic and abstain from any data consumption (Tim Ferris’s approach), but rather consume data in moderation that will allow you to know your surroundings enough and still focus on the big picture.

Convention #2-You can process much more information in less time. {SPEED}

Reality #2: Just like our digestion system- fast digestion in the brain often doesn’t end well.

Being a slow reader sucks. You want to be able to process multiple articles and books every week, heck every day. That would be phenomenal. Time is the valuable asset we have, therefore we should aspire to read/process more within less time.

That said, if there’s any advantage for slow reading, it is being able to read something with dedication and lots of attention. As a result, it sinks down and the information is processed.

You can use some of the speed learning systems to review articles and “scan” them to see if you’ll have general interest. But in order to dive deeper or really remember something, there is no shortcut.

The brain works just like the digestion system. When we process food fast and don’t chew it well we lose a lot. The goal here is to absorb more nutrients and energy from your food, have easier digestion, and taste and enjoy your food. The chewing process pre-digests your food into small pieces and partially liquefies it.

Convention #3 I should consume more and increase my daily intake. More = better {QUANTITY}

/ Quantity matters and will increase your overall knowhow.

Reality #3: I can be an information superman if I only focus more on the information “SUPER FOODS.” Focus on a selected area, and consume less.

Michael Pollan, the nutrition guru unfolded his theory and set it on three main cornerstones: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. I would like to borrow this approach towards consumption of information. What fits our body should fit our mind: Consume information. Not too much. Mostly just what you need.

And one more thing. Quality matters. It’s better to consume less information and read less per day, but focus on high quality stuff.


What Kind of Food is Your Brain Eating?

Rolf Dobelli put it well when he said that news is to the mind what sugar is to the body. News is easy to digest. The media feeds us small bites of trivial matter, tidbits that don’t really concern our lives and don’t require thinking. That’s why we experience almost no saturation. Unlike reading books and long magazine articles (which require thinking), we can swallow limitless quantities of news flashes, which are bright-coloured candies for the mind.

And just like with consuming sugar- our body doesn’t really value consuming it, but rather there is major pressure by various industries that suggest we consume this unnecessary element.


Consume less food, but focus on the superfoods or the foods that will benefit you the most, i.e: with the most nutritional value.

Unless you’re Superman and process 10 books at once with your laser vision, then you’re probably just like most of us human beings. You have limited attention span and limited capacity.

Hence, you will want to focus on specific knowledge at a given time. So process the data, make sure to process it right (better to read slower and remember, then read faster and forget you even read that piece) so you’ll be able to access this data later on as the ideas are saved to your memory now.


Convention #4 : Tools are the goals. Get equipped.

Reality #4: The tools will make you more effective. Tools are a great vehicle.


Just like the food industry, there are always more inventions that will help the industry to produce more food to consume in less time, but it doesn’t say it will improve the quality. A recent San Francisco based startup has introduced Soylent – a Nutritious Meal-Replacement Shake Mix.

There was significant backlash from nutrisounient and it is quite doubtful if this super-shake /super-food can replace daily meals.

Does it save time and the hassle of eating? Yes. It definitely reduces the time of eating to practically 0. Now you can spend more time on other things. But as it appears, it’s not that clear that the entire nutrition value, vitamins, etc will be received via this shake.

Tools are a vehicle. Use them with discretion and modify them to fit your mindset and your specific learning method. Here are some of my favorite tools for improving the way I consume information:

1) Speed reading app, speed reading extension , and speed reader courses (this Udemy course for instance) or similar courses on Coursera.

2) How to understand the context of a book/article with reading strategies and techniques (How to Read a Book.)

3) Remember better: read, talk about, and DO (write). In order to remember better, talk about what you’ve read and then summarize it. You can do so via tools like Evernote and store your thoughts in notebooks.

In an era in which numerous marketers (and beyond) are always saying “content is king,” it’s important to improve the quality of the content we’re consuming. Just because there is more available, that doesn’t mean that we should be scrolling down our feeds and reading every article that pops up. Information is like a grocery store and we can’t (and shouldn’t!) put everything we see into our carts, because they have a certain capacity. It’s a matter of strategically planning what items we choose to put into our metaphorical cart to give us the most and best quality energy.