The Age of Missing Information

“Highly personal and original . . . McKibben goes beyond Marshall McLuhan’s theory that the medium is the message.”
——The New York Times

Imagine watching an entire day’s worth of television on every single channel. Acclaimed environmental writer and culture critic Bill McKibben subjected himself to this sensory overload in an experiment to verify whether we are truly better informed than previous generations. Bombarded with newscasts and fluff pieces, game shows and talk shows, ads and infomercials, televangelist pleas and Brady Bunch episodes, McKibben processed twenty-four hours of programming on all ninety-three Fairfax, Virginia, cable stations. Then, as a counterpoint, he spent a day atop a quiet and remote mountain in the Adirondacks, exploring the unmediated man and making small yet vital discoveries about himself and the world around him. As relevant now as it was when originally written in 1992–and with new material from the author on the impact of the Internet age–this witty and astute book is certain to change the way you look at television and perceive media as a whole.

“By turns humorous, wise, and troubling . . . a penetrating critique of technological society.”–Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Masterful . . . a unique, bizarre portrait of our life and times.”
Los Angeles Times

“Do yourself a favor: Put down the remote and pick up this book.”
Houston Chronicle

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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By Andrew · ★★☆☆☆ · November 30, 2008
What is most radical about this book is the experiment itself, it's personal, bodily, i guess almost self-flagellating, akin to the film Super Size Me. McKibben watched one day of cable television, all 100 channels, 24 hours a piece; that is, he gorged on about 2400 hours total of America's TV ou... ...more
By Mark (Spokane, WA) · ★★★★★ · April 04, 2008
We have been told multiple times that we live in the age of information, that we are living through an information revolution, that we are taking in more information than any other culture at any other time in the history of the planet. True enough, says McKibben. But what information is it? Is i... ...more
By Rachel (Tallahassee, FL) · ★★★★☆ · December 28, 2014
If you need encouragement to turn off the TV, this is the book to read. Being reminded of all these jingles and useless tidbits of information floating around in my head was a nice illustration of the absurd. ...more
By Sue (Ada, MI) · ★★★★☆ · March 08, 2015
I bought this book in 1993 and sat on it for 20 years…so reading it now with the rise of the Internet makes the message even more poignant. If you can get over much of the almost antiquated TV information, the message McKibben teaches is still pertinent. Even though most of us will not sit an ent... ...more
By Karen (Sharon, MA) · ★★★☆☆ · April 26, 2009
I found the premise of this book interesting: the author recorded a day's worth of TV on over 100 channels, watched it all over the course of the next year, and pondered what we could learn about modern American society from it. It had some funny bits and some insightful moments about useless pro... ...more
By Ken (Springfield, IL) · ★★★☆☆ · October 02, 2012
The book is a long essay contrasting and analyzing a day relaxing in the wilds of the Virginia Adirondacks with the experience of absorbing one single day of 100 channels broadcasting on the local TV network. McKibben invited over one hundred of his friends and family to tape all of the programmi... ...more
By Joanna (The United States) · ★☆☆☆☆ · December 03, 2012
This book is amazingly bad. While the premise of the experiment is interesting and the author does have a few points about the nature of television I found thought provoking, most of the book is just the author espousing his views about nature, environmentalism, and sustainability. I did find the... ...more
By Mike (Mission, KS) · ★★☆☆☆ · May 31, 2009
I kind of gathered what the author was going to say when he laid out his strategy toward the beginning of the book. After plowing through all of the TV examples, sprinkled with tid bits of outside beauty journals, the only conclusion I had in mind is what he led us to. So TV blindly misuses its p... ...more
By Montana · ★★★★★ · March 20, 2015
i loved this book because it said bold things about the cluttered nature of television in our lives and the power of simple observation. I am unsure if I can live the kind of spartan life and mckibben seems to have. But I admire it because it seems paced better than the average haggard 21st centu... ...more
By Caitlin (The United States) · ★★★★☆ · February 12, 2015
Although I am mostly a fan of fictional novels, I do feel that this book was an interesting read. Not only is it helpful for my research paper about technology/social media, but it also stresses why turning off the TV is a pretty good idea. This book offers much insight about how we,as a society,... ...more