As the chief of a company that is on the leading edge of tech information, Tim O'Reilly knows a thing or two about information management and beeping, pinging overload.
If you think your pulsing, beeping in-boxes and digital feeds are beginning to make you feel like TV's Lucy and Ethel stuffing candy in their mouths and clothes to keep up with a speeding conveyor belt, imagine O'Reilly's info glut.
It's why the idea of embarking on the newest diet craze for 2012 — the Information Diet — struck a personal nerve for the CEO of the Sebastopol-based O'Reilly Media.
"It's very easy to get caught thinking you're actually doing something when all you're doing is consuming information," O'Reilly said by cellphone from the road.
"It makes you feel busy but it doesn't actually produce anything."
The 57-year-old O'Reilly is one of more than 5,000 digitally connected souls who have made a New Year's resolution to go on an "Information Diet," making a conscious decision to become much more selective about what and how much information they're consuming.
It's part of a nascent techno-info push-back movement. Since the Internet opened to the masses in the mid-1990s, advancing technology has torn down the levees, bringing in ever faster and bigger waves of information, eating at our time, taxing our mental resources and even eroding personal relationships and health.
Meanwhile, social media, iPads and smart phones have increased the info delivery so fast that no one has even had time to think about what it's doing to our lives.
Sonoma State University Psychology Professor Mary Gomes for the past several years has been assigning students to engage in a week-long media fast each term to study the impact of media withdrawal on a generation that is connected virtually 24/7.
When she first began the project, which she is developing into a full research study, students were very wary.
But since then there has been a shift, Gomes said, with many students now actually excited about taking on the fast. They reveal that they've been realizing they wanted to change their media habits, she said, and are happy to have an excuse to get started.
A recent national survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation health policy research group found that youths 8 to 18 years old spend more than 7.5 hours a day with TV, computers, video games and other tech devices.
"It feels like students have become disillusioned to a large extent with the level of engagement they have with the media...," said Gomes.
"Anyone can do their own media fast any time, but because it's so much a part of the fabric of our lives it's not so easy to decide to do this on your own. We need a social facilitation for changing it."
That's just what Clay Johnson is attempting on a global scale. The author of "The Information Diet," just published by O'Reilly Media, however, is promoting a more long-term lifestyle adjustment, with people rethinking their media habits and making healthier choices.
He maintains that it's not just the quantity but the quality of the information many of us are taking in that is weighing us down.
"2012 aims to be more filled with junk information than any other year in human history," said Johnson, who co-founded Blue State Digital, the agency that built Barack Obama's digital campaign in 2008, and who also worked for the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington D.C-based nonprofit that uses technology to make government more transparent and accountable.