This is a saying in computer science. It says that if you feed an algorithm with junk data, the results it returns will be junk too.
Whatever creativity or originality we exhibit, it is essentially rearranging and synthesizing information that we have taken in from outside. I did not invent any of the language I'm using. I absorbed it from a lifetime of conversation and reading. The quality of our thinking is dependent upon the quality of other’s thinking that we absorb.
Insight and creativity remain a bit of mystery to me in terms of how exactly they unfold and what enables a new connection to form, but I can tell that whatever insight I have, I am borrowing concepts and insights that I’ve absorbed in my explorations of this world.
Whatever possibilities are embedded in media I consume (books, news, film, tv, etc.), remain swirling in my mind and my imagination, and shape what I believe to be possible.
Additionally, this media shapes my sense of "what one does", which has a tremendous impact on how each of us live. Many of us are either organized around conforming to "what one does", or rebelling against "what one does". Or as Seth Godin says, "people like us do things like this".
In this time of information and media abundance, we can probably all stand to be a little more discerning with what we consume.