Tag Archives: Mark Hurst

My New Media Diet – Bit Literacy by Mark Hurst


I have been getting the bug to blog again! So now breaking radio silence…

After finishing a book called Bit Literacy: Productivity in the Age of Information and E-mail Overload, I made some major changes to the amount of data I allow into my life.The author, Mark Hurst, claims that discernment is the most necessary skill in “The Age of Bits”. Here are a few quotes which stood out:

The important thing is to learn how to engage the bits appropriately—to do the right thing with the bits at the right time. To rephrase Ecclesiastes, there’s a time to save, and a time to erase; a time to turn on, and a time to turn off; a time for all actions. But one must always look for ways to let the bits go. There is no other way to work in a world of infinite bits.

The scarce resource is not the bits but our time and attention to deal with them…if overload is the problem, then removing the load is the solution…Bit literacy means letting the bits go; anything else perpetuates the problem.

As Richard Saul Wurman put it in his 1989 book Information Anxiety: “One of the most anxiety-inducing side effects of the information era is the feeling that you have to know it all. Realizing your own limitations becomes essential to surviving an information avalanche; you cannot or should not absorb or even pay attention to everything.

The bit-literate approach involves creating and maintaining a media diet, a constantly pruned set of publications (digital, print, and other media) that keeps us informed about what matters most to us, professionally and personally. Like every other part of bit literacy, this is a discipline that users must take responsibility for. No one else can create our media diet…Once you have a media diet, you—and no one else—are in control of what you read, watch, and listen to. And you know the specific reasons why you engage each of your sources. Think of the media diet as a team of advisers you’ve hired to inform you about the world, on your terms. As the boss, you have to start by interviewing candidates, making some hires, and then continually evaluating how everyone is doing.

In response to reading this book I took several actions:

  • I culled my podcast list from over 60 to 25. I wanted to get down to 15 but couldn’t.
  • I also culled my blog roll from over 100 to 42.
  • Moved my mail app on my device to the back page instead of leaving it in my dock. In its place I moved my Kindle app so that I will more instinctively read instead of checking email when I don’t have the time to respond to my email.
  • I started using a tool called “Followupthen” to better manage my email. Bit Literacy describes a similar tool, but I wanted a free alternative. This one best suits my needs. It allows you to quickly email yourself in the future, so that emails only sit in your inbox when they are actually relevant to your life.

What strategies are you using to become more bit literate? Please Leave a comment below.