Information Equity: What it is and what it’s costing you
One of the greatest misconceptions in our age of mind-blowing technology is that “information is free” or wants to be.
Information is actually one of the expensive things in the world and no matter how much money you have you’ll never be able to afford as much of it as you need.
If haven’t guessed already, the cost of information consumption is time and attention. Our two most limited resources, which are almost always better spent on the things that really matter in life; relationships, health, and fulfilling work. Most information consumption is an inefficient use of these resources considering the limited short-term memory we humans have, the vast majority of this information just gets absorbed into our subconscious, to reemerge blurred and convoluted by our emotions at the moment.
I would even go as far as to say that generations past had it better because information had more tangible costs; a $300 encyclopedia volume that took up an entire shelf in your living room, a 10-pound yellow pages directory, or hundreds of documents in a complicated filing system. The trouble of extracting knowledge from these forms of media meant that the seeker made sure it was going to be worth their while.
Let’s get practical here…
- As an entrepreneur and marketing consultant, I make about $125/hourly (more if I account for the revenue continuity of my cryptocurrency investing and affiliate revenues).
- Let’s say, since I’m fast, it takes me 15 minutes to skim a decent blog and watch a Youtube video on a subject (and remember the 80/20 principle, I probably need to skim more than this to learn what I need to).
This has a finite time cost to me of about $32.
- I’m going to have to work overtime to cover the time spent consuming information so it’s cost me another 15 minutes that should be spent enjoying the life I’m working so damn hard for.
- Like you, I only have about 8–10 hours of productive mental energy a day. Active, applicable-information consumption takes at least twice the mental energy of doing work (and sometimes it’s a much greater gap, depending upon what you do).
- Those 15 minutes cost me 30 minutes of mental energy; 30 minutes stolen from energy that could have been devoted to actual work.
Keep in mind this example is for just 15 minutes of information consumption, sometimes we spend hours a day!
If I’m going to treat my time as money and my knowledge as potential power it becomes clear that I need to be getting equity above and beyond the value of the knowledge I am getting to cover the high cost of acquiring it. Whenever I engage in information consumption I am putting myself in a position of information inequity. I need to be selective about what I pay attention to…
- This why I don’t watch popular TV shows.
- I don’t watch sports.
- I turn movies off after 30-minutes if they aren’t amazing.
We live in an interesting time where there is this massive disparity between the amount of information we can consume and the amount of time we have to do it. Our success, individually and culturally, over the next century will be decided not by the amount of knowledge we acquire but by our ability to leverage the value of it.
Anyways, enough philosophical mumbo jumbo! You love it, you voracious consumer of information, you!
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And check out this documentary I made about my high-leverage information diet.