As we suck in masses of information, we need to be as clever as possible just to keep up. One way to do better is to strive for efficiency.
Different tools are good for different purposes of course, but some are particularly bad for conveying information in general. I’m talking about you, television! Sure, there are some things that you just need to see to understand, but those cases really are the minority.
Seeing some television will keep you up to date with cultural trends, for example, but it’s a very inefficient way to get news. I actually find that the best way for me to get news from television is from the opening section of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, ostensibly a comedy show, and the best way to understand a lot of pop culture is from The Soup, a weekly comedy show which pokes fun at all kinds of programs including reality TV and talk shows which I can’t stomach in full. In total, that amounts to a little over an hour a week, and I feel that I have absorbed as much information as I am going to efficiently get from TV.
This isn’t to say I won’t watch TV to relax or use a TV to watch films, but I won’t pretend to myself that it is anything other than relaxation. It’s easy for those of us in the information world to convince ourselves that what we are doing is “for work” but we have to watch that we don’t fool ourselves!
Reading is the most efficient way for me to get information because I’m a fast reader and the non-linearity of reading helps me absorb. Strangely enough, radio is the most visual medium for me, as a well-told radio story can make me imagine so much more than is even possible to show on television, and it tends to be done concisely. Having worked in print, radio, television, and online only confirms these feelings for me.
As for online, well, that’s another whole essay, and the choices we make change often depending on what technological tools are available to help us wade through a virtual infinity of information.