The Information Action Ratio

Date created: 2021-09-19

With new technology like the telegraph, TV, and now internet and social media, we are constantly informed about things that are not directly relevant to us. We aren’t going to act in response to that information. The Signal versus noise ratio is not getting better.

“given the firehose of information many of us drink from every day, I think there is a real and common desire to understand at least some of it and act on it in meaningful, constructive ways. Taking smart notes and recording things in some standardized database is the best way I’ve yet found for accumulating and synthesizing information.”

Neil Postman coined the term in Amusing Ourselves to Death. A speech in 1990:

“The tie between information and action has been severed. Information is now a commodity that can be bought and sold, or used as a form of entertainment, or worn like a garment to enhance one’s status. It comes indiscriminately, directed at no one in particular, disconnected from usefulness; we are glutted with information, drowning in information, have no control over it, don’t know what to do with it.”