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Monday, November 28, 2005

The ideology of distraction

This little NPR snippet on distraction and the Internet nails an observation that's been plaguing me for months.

Working in the tech industry, I find that lately I can hardly read a measly paragraph without losing focus and clicking erratically on every hyperlink I see. If I do get through more than a few sentences, I eventually find myself at the end of whatever I was reading with no clue what the author has actually been writing about.

Writer and thinker Neil Postman made the excellent observation that technology always carries with it an ideology. It seems like the ideology of the internet is that everything anyone has to say about anything should be entering my brain at this very moment.

By definition, hypertext--those links that are the cornerstone of the internet, taking you from one place to the next--require you to leave what you are currently concentrating on in order to check on something else. It's a vicious cycle... Referencing the referenced reference until you've found yourself back at this site, blind and drooling.

I've been trying to re-train myself to actually think when consuming information, to quit being a slave to the mindless scroll and click. We'll see how it goes.


Now what was I doing?