Welcome to Monday, or zoning out on the info glut

Okay,this is the post where I am outing myself: I can’t keep up.
While my friends in general may think I am tech-obsessed, Miz Edge of the Universe (at least the blogosphere), insiders in the Valley know that I’m hopeless outclassed by the digerati whose deepest passion is having an opinion on the next big thing (and all the little things on the way to the NBT).
I-just-can’t-keep-up. And frankly, Scarlett, I’m not sure I should give a damn.
What is Mernit whining about tonight?

  • It’s twittr, dudes, and Jaiku and thousands of other little applications that other people who seem unable to step away from the computer keep blogging about, endlessly, with the fascination of kids staring down the wrong end of the microscope into a universe, that, suddenly, seems very small.
  • And it’s etsy and ebay and apartment therapy and mighty goods and all the thousands of interesting podcasts, vlogs and blogs everyone is creating, so that the virtual pile of user-generated content is rising higher and higher, spilling out of a virtual closet and filling all the space in the room, more content that I can ever keep up with or absorb, most of it generated by some friend of a friend.
  • And then it’s flickr, and Yahoo groups and all the email notifications and alerts on everything from cheap airfares to new shoestores with millions of new shoes.

I just can’t keep up. All the bites and bytes we create are just burying me.

I can barely read and use and experiment with the things I already know and use, let alone make room to have an opnion about the river of products and data flowing into my life.

Arrgghhhhh. What have we wrought?

Oh, I know–information and application fatigue. Welcome to Monday, everyone.

Latest Comments

  1. Richard says:

    Thanks for this. It’s nice to know that it sometimes gets to be too much for someone like you. I don’t even live in that Web 2.0 world, and I attribute some of my feelings to my over-55 status, but I attended PODCamp NYC this past Saturday and people seemed so busy Twittering, etc., that nobody was listening to the pitches of the person talking to them.
    On a subject from my own field, there was an op-ed in yesterday’s Washington Post, Laptops vs. Learning, that confirmed my experience during my years as academic resources director at “the most wired law school in America”: mandating that students use laptops in classes impeded many students’ learning. Now, with all the new applications, social networks, products, etc., it’s only more distracting. The students flunking out who told me they couldn’t pay attention or concentrate in class because they were online also said they could not stop themselves from their web activities.
    Some Americans seem to be getting even more sleep-deprived because of this flood you talk about. Information isn’t knowledge, much less wisdom. But what do I know? I’m so far from being a digerati that I might as well be a tree. A tree who is spending far too much time with trivia of the moment.

  2. Michael Fagan says:

    I unsubscribed to 15% of my feeds a few days ago. It feels like such a relief… and it certainly doesn’t feel like I’m missing anything now.

  3. Peter says:

    yep – i’ve had to unsubscribe to feeds before. will be looking forward to Google Reader’s continued roll-out of new features.
    on the general topic of information overload, i think there is still lots of room – probably always will be – for ‘information finder/aggregation’ services.
    we need something that:
    * gets you ‘need to know’ info – whether that be related to your business, politics, etc. it’d be nice to be able to go to Google Reader and say ‘give the suburban palo alto 35 yo soccer dad pack’, and that would include news articles, video, local safety alerts (weather, traffic, fire/police), possibly music, localized politics, etc.
    * introduced you to new sites occasionally, like a light version of StumbleUpon, but you don’t have to go out of your way to ‘stumble’ and find new stuff,
    * information would be sorted according to importance/buzz/’heat’, so a ‘QuickTwitter Launches!’ headline doesn’t beat out a ‘Robber in your neighborhood!’ headline.
    * You’d be able to increase or decrease the information flow rate by using some simple GUI slider thing that made sense intuitively, including saying to up it on weekends (when you’re hopefully not working), and down everything but soccer during the World Cup. It would automatically determine the most important / pertinent / profound posts/articles based on any number of criteria.
    * Old/stale items could be auto-archived (marked ‘read’), after a certain number of days goes by, so you don’t get backed up.
    * etc.
    Lots of good things that can happen there. And I guess some of these things already exist in advanced news readers. Unfortunately, the internets can have a tv-like quality – a lot of content without a lot of substance. Any good information aggregation/knowledge service would point you to longer-form articles that have more substance, in general, than one-off blog posts. You could set up your service to either spoon-feed you political content you know you’ll agree with, or you could try to be a good citizen and set up your service to give you a broad spectrum of opinion (not just the busines parties, but the good ones, too).
    Sounds like a startup. Who wants to help?! :)

  4. David Beach says:

    I should be asleep right now, but I’m reading your blog :)
    I feel the same way, it’s driving me crazy. There’s no easy fix because it’s addictive behavior. The answer is to stop, shut down, and not worry about doing that. It’s impossible, though if it’s your career or livelihood.
    We all have a desire to collect things. Stuff, information, whatever, there is never enough. And we feel out of touch or lost or not as important if we don’t have that thing or are not twittering. But there never will be enough. We don’t feel cool if we’re not in the loop.
    But maybe it’s cooler to be less in the know about Web stuff, especially if you hang with that crowd. Take the “eh who cares?” approach to the new stuff. “Talk to me when they have 10 million users.”
    What would Fonzie do?

  5. Edward Vielmetti says:

    I found solace tonight in escaping the infinite wasteland of the net and read a book instead.
    Still, there might be something out there worth reading – click click click – is it there?

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