research

Devices for Information Consumption

We live in the fast-food age of information consumption. Our most limited resource is no longer time - it's attention. In this project, conceptual devices were developed to explore possible future ways of how we consume information.

»Information diet, »eye candy« - it may be »hard to swallow«, but many of the everyday metaphors we use for information consumption are eating-related. It seems like our body sees a parallel between information consumption and food consumption. This is historically interesting. In the 1990s' »fast food explosion«, food became almost ubiquitously available.It was somehow tempting, and we stuffed it in without second thoughts - then, afterwards, second thoughts arose: »Was that really good for me? Was it worth it?« After half an hour, however, these second thoughts were gone, and we were hungry again. Maybe, we are currently in the »fast food age« of information consumption. Information is almost ubiquitously available, often tempting, and mostly »stuffed in« without second thoughts. And often, we are hungry for more after only five minutes - and, before we know it, the hand reaches for the phone again.

Perhaps we can learn from our eating culture. Different approaches emerged, including vegetarian and vegan eating - selective approaches. Other approaches split up consumption by the ingredients (e. g. they avoid sugars in the evenings). And many people ask questions about what they eat: »Where does this come from? What's in it? What will it do to me?« Learning from these approaches could be helpful for us.

Today, our most limited resource is no longer time. It's attention.

In this project, conceptual devices for information consumption were developed, showing us how we could consume information in the future:

Controlled

This prototype allows us to control the emotional response that we want to get out of our information consumption in advance. It's similar to how we select music, where we often choose »relaxing« or »uplifting« in advance. It works through a training-based algorithm, which, over time, has learned about our emotional reactions to different informational »ingredients«.

Conscious

Perhaps, we will need »nutritional information« tables, as we have them for food today, for information in the future. Which amounts of fact, fiction, fear, and confirmation - perhaps, measured in »bites« - are in a piece of information that we consume?

Selective

Perhaps, it would already help us if we could use our body, in order to get a feeling of how much we consume, and where it comes from. Because for all the good things that mobile devices and ubiquitous telecommunication have brought with them, they are really bad for our psycho-hygiene: we can take work to a romantic dinner, and our television to the office. What if we went back one step, and localized different sources or genres of information in different spaces? Work e-mail: only in the office, entertainment stuff: only in the living room. This way, we could teach our body that these things do not »go everywhere« - which means that we need to get them from somewhere, but also means that we can leave them there - physically, and much more importantly: mentally.

Calm

Maybe, we need devices that help us to learn to let go of them. Maybe we need a mobile phone that will only recharge its battery when we walk away from it far enough, and leave it alone.

Data Protection

Fabian Hemmert