What do America's obesity epidemic, and the way media companies tailor news content (to reflect search engine results) have in common? In his keynote presentation, author and engagement expert Clay Johnson explains: "Agiculture's relationship to obesity has a lot to do with media's relationship with ignorance."
The idea may seem comical and far-fetched, but not unlike an obesity epidemic, there are serious social consequences likely from a populace that seeks comfort rather than news. Clay submits that there are similarities between big agriculture (Big Agro) companies and mass media. Big Agro companies produce cheap food that is unhealthy, but tastes better. Big media companies produce cheap popular information that is entertainment rather than news.
According to Clay, the risk we face is not from information abundance, but from over-consumption of information. He proposes four steps we all can make to join him in his whole news movement.
Clay Johnson is the author of The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption and Director of Engagement for Expert Labs. He was the co-founder of Blue State Digital, the firm that built and managed Barack Obama’s online campaign for the presidency in 2008. After leaving Blue State, Johnson was the director of Sunlight Labs at the Sunlight Foundation, where he built an army of 2000 developers and designers to build open source tools to give people greater access to government data. He was awarded the Google/O’Reilly Open Source Organizer of the year in 2009, was one of Federal Computing Week’s Fed 100 in 2010, and won the CampaignTech Innovator award in 2011.
Johnson’s combination of experience as a developer, working in politics, entrepreneurism, and non-profit work gives him a unique perspective on media and culture. His life is dedicated to giving people greater access to the truth about what’s going on in their communities, their cities and their governments. He still claims that he learned all he needs to know from a two year tour as the late-shift waiter at Waffle House in Atlanta, GA.
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Photo: Alex Dunne