The web is a distraction engine

Author Nicholas Carr: The Web Shatters Focus, Rewires Brains | Wired Magazine.

This article has forced me to think hard about a couple things:

1) that I should reconsider my notification settings for Twitter and other social media.  As the article says, most of those live, up-to-the-minute updates aren’t actually all that interesting; most of them are, in fact, crap.

2) excessive linking in articles and posts hurts more than helps.  This is good to know as I tend to be fairly long-winded.  The article doesn’t address, however, whether people read long form posts or articles in a normal environment.  The studies it cites are situations in which the subject was told to read something, so there’s still the fairly high chance that — despite the fact that reading a longer, more involved post or article free from distractions and blinking lights is better for learning — no one will read it anyway because they’re too busy being distracted by their Facebook updates, Twitter stream or lack of attention span.

Recently I’ve been using Feedly for RSS feeds.  I like Feedly better than my normal RSS reader because there’s always more than I can possibly keep up with when I subscribe to major news sources like Wired, Gizmodo, SciFiWire, Huffington Post, etc.  As a result, I tend to be with it when it comes to technology but hopelessly behind the times when it comes to actual news.  Feedly solves this (sort of) by taking your various sources for news and organizing it in a kind of magazine-style page with all the stuff you want to read about, organized in groups that you set up.  It also randomizes articles so you see stuff you might not have read from a couple days ago as well as the new stuff.  This is good, because it seems like it could replace getting those links (to some degree, anyway) directly from people I follow on Twitter.  Rather than having to make the choice to click on an interesting article when I see the Twitter notification pop up (else I lose it 3 seconds later and never find it again), I can trust Feedly to eventually bring that article up to the surface at some point and read it when I actively choose to.

I’m all for the web and social media and new technology, but I will admit that I’m a sucker for distraction and sometimes I just want to get my work done.

muscle memory

it’s interesting how muscle memory works. or, if not muscle memory (a term i just grabbed because it seemed appropriate without knowing anything about the actual scientific usage of said phrase) then the way your body remembers things that, intellectually, you probably couldn’t possibly keep straight.

very close to nightly i quietly enter and exit our kids’ bedroom to put our daughter to bed. our son is already sleeping. many times it’s pitch black, the room lit only by a dim, mostly concealed night-light (which, if nothing else, serves as a sort of lighthouse that i use to gauge where her crib is). often, it’s the middle of the night and i’ve been holding her, waiting for her to go back to sleep, and reading stuff on the computer, so my eyes haven’t yet adjusted to the darkness. and yet, as i make my way through their room, away from the crib and my lighthouse, i manage to find my way to the door (mostly without knocking things over or bumping into things) and, more importantly, find the door handle.

the last part is what i’m most interested in. sure, i can fathom counting steps, turning left or right when appropriate, a pattern that can be memorized. but the way my hand almost immediately finds the door handle in total darkness interests me. is it a matter of making minute, unrecognized adjustments as i’m reaching? or is it that some part of my animal brain knows exactly where the handle is located and finds it automatically?