High-info diets and poor poets

Tony Karrer pointed the way to Lifehack, which apparently had been hiding on the dark side of my conceptual moon. Perhaps because I’d been talking about feeds with a friend, I liked Dustin Wax’s post about going on a high-information diet. Here’s his input test:

  • Is this input making me better informed?
  • If not, is there any entertainment or social value I receive from this input?
  • If so, is the entertainment or social value worth the time and effort to maintain the input?

Apply the Input Test to your email newsletters, RSS feeds, TV selections, magazine subscriptions, podcasts, and so on. Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of keeping something around in case someday in the future something important comes down the tube! There’s no piece of information so important that it can only be found amid a heaping mountain of crap — and so rare that you won’t find out about it otherwise.

The picture of health

Wax brought to mind Bertrand Russell’s notion that the time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time. Managing your inputs is something like the principles that guided A Cookbook for Poor Poets and Others:

  • Always use real butter.
  • Always serve fresh bread.
  • Always serve wine.

Those rules didn’t mean only do those things; they means focus on the purpose and experience of the meal. Wax is reminded me to do the same with my info-gathering. And if I’m gathering for the fun of it, be aware that’s what I’m doing, and stop when it’s no longer fun.

Healthy Diet Coke photo by Lance McCord.