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.