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Archive for April, 2014

The-Master-Switch-Wu-Tim-9780307269935I recently met with the CTO of a new electricity supplier, set to enter the market later this year. During the conversation he suggested a book called The Master Switch by Tim Wu. I picked up a copy and have brought it away on holiday. I’m just getting stuck in, so I’ll reserve judgement, but one particular passage struck a chord:

…just as you are what you eat, how and what you think depends on what information you are exposed to. How do you hear the voice of political leaders? Whose pain do you feel? And where do your aspirations, your dreams of good living, come from? All these are the products of the information environment.

In a world drowning in content, your attention is the scarcest commodity of all. Organisations spend billions trying to access the sensory channels by which your brain takes in information, even if it’s only for a moment. That might be all it takes to nudge you into a purchase or a point of view. As a human being in the 21st century West, you have to guard these channels carefully by deliberately choosing the sources of information that you’ll spend your precious attention on.

Once you’ve done your best to choose good sources of information, you still have to think critically about the messages. Swallow them whole and before you know it you might hear yourself espousing a viewpoint you didn’t form yourself. Or driving a Range Rover. Or inexplicably sporting a beard.

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