How to Navigate Digital Information

In these days of misinformation, fake news and click baits it’s good to have some initiatives to teach us how to navigate this messy digital information ocean (or hell…).

And Crash Course – Navigating Digital Information is an excellent way to learn about media literacy. The host is John Green, also known as the author of the novel “The fault in our stars” who, along with his brother, Hank Green, has this more than 10-years-old YouTube channel (Vlogbrothers).

Navigating Digital Information is a 10-episode series that was developed in partnership with the Poynter Institute Media Wise project based on research form the Stanford History Education Group.

The series covers topics like:

  • Lateral reading and fact checking
  • How to use Wikipedia (and how it is awesome!)
  • How to evaluate photos and videos
  • How to read charts and graphics (and how to be critical about them!)
  • How to know who to trust online.

I highly recommend this series to everyone that uses the Internet, no matter the age.

#crashcourse #digitalinformation #medialiteracy #internet

Social Media Declutter: My Change Log (2016-2018)

Social Media Declutter: My Change Log (2016-2018)

I have been decluttering my life for some years now. In terms of material possessions I have reached a point where I consider I have enough. I have the essential now. I have a capsule wardrobe that works for me. I don’t own physical books or CD’s anymore. I prefer not having decorations on the walls of my home.

Right now I am focusing on the less corporeal items of my life. I’ve been critically evaluating my online activity for quite a while now.

After I read the book Deep Work by Cal Newport  in 2016,  a light bulb turned on inside my head that made me think: Am I too distracted? Are we too distracted?

And the answer is “Yes, we are distracted!”. The combination of cellphones and social media has dramatically changed my behavior towards technology and that is scary! I love technology, don’t get me wrong. I grew up in the non-digital world and I remember when I connected to the Internet for the first time. The Internet was a marvelous unexplored space with enormous possibilities. It meant freedom! Democratic access to information! Connection!

And now I feel entrapped when I am online. I feel like I don’t have control. I feel like I am inside a weird experiment where my choices are not my own. I feel like a victim. So I decided to take some action!

The Process

My decluttering process was like this:

  1. Make a list of all the social media account that I have.
  2. Log into the accounts and check the status: Have I been using it? Do I like it? What do I use it for?
  3. Make a plan for each one of them, listing their purpose and what I want to do with them.
  4. Delete the accounts I no longer use or update.
  5. Reevaluate the accounts that I still use: can I unfollow/unfriend people/profiles? Delete/minimize the amount of information feeding my timeline.
  6. Repeat step 5 regularly (I did every 2 months from 2016 to 2018).

The idea was to be less distracted by minimizing the amount of information I was receiving. It is a curating process, and it takes a while. Every time I was in the “deleting” mode I wondered if I really needed to receive that update from a particular profile.

My plan for each account looked like this:

1) Facebook

  • Messenger, contact with family and friends.
  • Discussion groups.
  • Want to: clean timeline, mass unfollow, to use it actively and not passively

2) Instagram

  • Inspiration; yoga
  • Want to: reduce input/distraction, mass unfollow

3) Pinterest

  • Visualization board; inspiration; yoga classes and series; minimalism
  • Want to: delete it. It’s too overwhelming.

4) Twitter

  • Micro blog; meet people; share ideas
  • General news and info
  • Want to: mass unfollow, keep only what brings me value

5) Google +

  • Never use it.
  • Want to: Delete it.

The Results

1) Facebook

  • 10.02.2016 – Disabled all notifications. I left only the notifications from “Close Friends”. Left groups I wasn’t using anymore.
  • 18.02.2016 – Stopped following 138 pages on Facebook.
  • 21.03.2016 – Deleted Facebook app from my mobile.
  • 26.04.2016 – Disabled all updates on my timeline and unfollowed everything: 100% empty timeline. If I wanted to see something, I would have to go to my friends lists.
  • 01.11.2016 –  Installed News Feed Eradicator for Facebook on my browsers
  • 2017/2018 – Continued to “unfriend” people I didn’t have contact with anymore.

2) Instagram

  • 2016-2018 – Continuous process of unfollowing/curating. See the results in the graph below.

3) Pinterest

This one was a long process. I started deleting boards I wasn’t updating anymore. From 2016 to 2017 I was still deleting boards.

  • 2016 – I had 28 boards.
  • 2017 – I had 11 boards.
  • March, 2018 – Account deleted!

4) Twitter

  • 2016-2018 – Continuous process of unfollowing/curating. See the results in the graph below.

5) Google+

  • 25.01.2017 – Deleted my Google+ Profile and all its content. I was not using it anymore.

The Numbers – Summary!

So, I still have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Throughout my curating process I mainly registered the number of following profiles or friends I had. My summary log for the past 3 years looks like this:

Social media accounts I follow

As a result I minimized my social media inputs by:

  • Facebook: – 35%
  • Twitter: – 65%
  • Instagram: – 64%

This reduction cut down my FOMO feelings and since I kinda knew which type of information I was getting from each account, I could use them more mindfully. Also, I feel less overwhelmed by not being bombarded with information.

The only social media app installed on my phone right now is Instagram.

I only log into Facebook to check out my Groups discussions once or twice a week.

I still log in to check Twitter 3-4 times a week. The best part in having less than 100 following accounts is that I get fewer information on my Timeline and it drastically reduces the time I spend scrolling each time I access it.

What’s next?

I am still reflecting on how useful social media is to me. After this decluttering process, I feel like I really don’t need it as much I thought I did.

I still want to experiment deleting or suspending my accounts to see what happens. More and more I feel that I prefer to consume less and in a more curated way.

Food for thought: should I delete my social media accounts?

Reflection time: Jaron Lanier on how to Remake the Internet

I started reading the book “You are not a gadget”  by Jaron Lanier. This book was published 8 years ago and it still feels fresh. This read is making me reflect a lot about the Internet today. It’s the first time I read a Jaron Lanier book and I am fascinated by his ideas.

So, I am just going to leave this amazing TED Talk here for the weekend. It is worth it!

My favorite quote is this:

I don’t believe our species can survive unless we fix this. We cannot have a society in which, if two people wish to communicate, the only way that can happen is if it’s financed by a third person who wishes to manipulate them. — Jaron Lanier