My Information Diet

I’ve been prompted to examine my “information diet,” which includes all of my sources of information throughout the day.

I typically wake up around 6:30 or 7:00 in the morning, to the sound of the Michigan State University college radio station, Impact 89 FM. I love the awkward first-time DJs, and the station seems to have an early 1990s nostalgia — lots of grunge.

Ever since I got an iPhone, I now read most of my e-mail in the morning while I am lying in bed. There are about 20 minutes where I don’t want to be physically awake and out of bed, but I need to do something to wake my mind up. I get e-mail alerts from ScienceDaily website, which keeps me up to date on a range of topics from Social Psychology to Sensory Perception. Occasionally, I will tweet the findings of the study — I use twitter to catalog and bookmark things that are of interest to me.

Another essential email newsletter is the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Wired Campus email newsletter, which includes news assembled from bloggers at the interface of the technological and academic worlds. Wired Campus typically gives me three good leads each week for possible “teaching with technology” projects, or ways to make myself more visible in cyberspace. The language is typically for an audience that is interested in technology, but who may not understand how it works.

While I make breakfast, I listen to NPR Morning Edition on Michigan Radio (91.7FM WUOM, out of the University of Michigan). Michigan Radio pales in comparison to Minnesota Public Radio when it comes to local programming, but I enjoy the Changing Gears reports, which are a collaboration between Michigan Radio, Chicago Public Radio, and IdeaStream Cleveland. Changing Gears focuses on the economic changes facing the Industrial Midwest, and the reporting has provided a comprehensive look at the problems confronting the region.

While I eat breakfast, I watch the previous night’s episode of The Daily Show with John Stewart. Stewart and the crew at the Daily Show are the sharpest critics of the media and conventional wisdom that exist in the American mainstream. What I truly enjoy about the Daily Show is that it does not run on the 24 hour news cycle, and therefore has the luxury of sitting back and making an informed statement at the end of the day. In terms of media literacy, no show points out how the media/political machine works any better, and I especially enjoy the clips of news anchors on all the major networks repeating the same phrase. A great example was the recent press conference from NJ Governor Chris Christie, where he repeatedly stated he was not running for president.

I should also point out that the Daily Show has pushed an interesting approach in new media. It has made every episode since 1999 freely available on the internet, and easily searchable by a labeling system that is arguably more efficient than YouTube. Episodes are available the morning after they air.

Throughout the day, I receive occasional e-mails from the SPORTPSY list-serve. List-serves are admittedly 1990s technology, but it is still the best source for “buzz” news in the fields of sport and exercise psychology. Good filtering on G-Mail has enabled me to cut back on the information glut, and read the interesting posts.

Throughout the day, the ESPN ScoreCenter app keeps me up to date with the Phillies and MSU Spartans.

I typically get home around 6:30pm, just in time for Marketplace on Michigan Radio. Marketplace is a nationally syndicated radio program from American Public Media. I am not a financial buff, but I listen to financial reporting because I find that the reporting on political and social issues lacks the spin seen in traditional “news” outlets. Noam Chomsky points out in Manufacturing Consent that the financial news outlets are the only ones that tell the truth.

On the weekends, Weekend Edition is typically what I wake up with, and generally I will listen to This American Life, which has fluctuated between stories and hard news this year (including this story about abuses in the patent process). Some weekends, I catch On the Media, a great round-up of media criticism for the week. I typically podcast Fresh Air with Terry Gross out of WHYY in Philadelphia, and listen to these episodes while I run errands. I will usually listen to ten Fresh Air episodes back to back when I’m on a long car trip.

It’s worth noting that all of these radio shows use websites that are based on WordPress technology (or similar website building technology). It’s very user-friendly, meaning that feature stories are easy to find and that the entire site is searchable. These are important features for any website.

In reviewing my information diet, it’s very apparent that without new technology (internet, e-mail, blogs) and ironically, old technology like radio, I would be living in an information vacuum. I don’t have a television, and therefore I don’t have cable. My feeling is that cable is not worth the amount you have to pay. I miss watching a lot of shows, but most of the shows I like air on HBO, which adds another layer of cost. I have decided to cut out my cable subscription in order to keep costs down. I also miss the ability to just veg out and watch sports, which puts me in a sports bar any time I want to watch a good game!

Another weakness is that I don’t have a good “go to” source for information regarding my primary career interest of sport psychology. That may change as AASP (Association for Applied Sport Psychology) evolves, but right now, that is a significant weakness.

All said and done, I’m quite satisfied with my sources, but I’m always looking for a new stream of quality information.

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