In case you weren't aware, yesterday was Information Overload Awareness Day - as if we needed to be made aware that we are overloaded....
This piece in The New Yorker does a great job at how many of us are [not] handling the deluge of e-mail we receive each day. Funny and brilliant.
Dear Friend, Family Member, Loved One, and/or Business Associate:
Thank you for your e-mail, which, if it is under three (3) sentences long, I have read. Owing to the large volume of e-mails I’m receiving at this time, please note that it will sometimes take up to fourteen (14) calendar days, though sometimes longer (and sometimes much longer), to respond to your e-mail; in the interim, please rest assured that I am attempting to address, resolve, or think about the matter you have described, unless, of course, I’m avoiding the matter entirely. Some possible reasons for this include:
—Thinking about the matter gives me a headache.
—Thinking about the matter takes longer than forty-five (45) seconds.
—Thinking about the matter is simple enough, and takes less than forty-five (45) seconds, but, when combined with all the other e-mails in my in-box, it creates a synergy of matterdom, exacerbating the headaches mentioned at the beginning of this list.
Please note that if your e-mail is more than three (3) sentences in length I have read the first three (3) sentences, skimmed the opening paragraph, and sort of eyeballed the rest of it. Please do not expect a response to your e-mail anytime soon, if at all, for I am not a mind reader, and therefore cannot guess the nature of anything beyond the first three (3) sentences. For those of you who continue to insist on sending e-mails longer than three (3) sentences, here is a Wikipedia entry on haiku. Reformat your e-mails accordingly, as in this example:
I am busy now; The Internet has stolen So much precious time.
Under certain circumstances, you may feel as though you cannot express the matter at hand in less than three (3) sentences. Below, please find some possible reasons for this, and their solutions:
Interesting research reported in the San Francisco Weekly about emerging research on the use of iPads in the therapy of autistic children...
Since the iPad's unveiling in April, autism experts and parents have brought it into countless homes and classrooms around the world. Developers have begun pumping out applications specifically designed for users with special needs, and initial studies are already measuring the effectiveness of the iPod Touch and the iPad as learning tools for children with autism. Through the devices, some of these children have been able to communicate their thoughts to adults for the first time. Others have learned life skills that had eluded them for years.
Though there are other computers designed for children with autism, a growing number of experts say that the iPad is better. It's cheaper, faster, more versatile, more user-friendly, more portable, more engaging, and infinitely cooler for young people. "I just couldn't imagine not introducing this to a parent of a child who has autism," says Tammy Mastropietro, a speech pathologist based outside Boston who uses the technology with numerous clients. She sees it as a game changer for those with autism, particularly those most severely affected.
I guess I have more US bias than I thought. I never would have thought we would be second worldwide in having the government demand information be removed from the web (or indexing). I also wouldn't have guessed Brazil would be at the top of the list.
You who know me know that I am far from having the fortitude to pull off SocMe entirely but I try to take block out to just pick up a book and read or set down the blasted iPhone when visiting with friends (not a master, still a grasshopper). What William Powers says here is too true. While I don't want "bad internet days", I also don't want to disconnect from the deeper conversations that let us really see each other and know each other. In Twitter's defense, being a telecommuter a lot of the water cooler aspect of work out of my day and I've been very fortunate to have Twitter at night to meet people in NM and have developed some wonderful friendships here because of it. But those in person interactions, when they come along are so much better than conversations that are limited to 140 character responses.
Powers' book, Hamlet's Blackberry, is on the stack and I hope it will help me break free of some acquired bad habits I've developed living mostly online.
On one level, it makes perfect sense that we never go anywhere without our gadgets. They perform all kinds of useful tasks for us and enrich our lives in countless ways.
But they also keep us connected to everything we’re trying to escape. Having a screen along for the ride changes the nature of the ride. A quiet afternoon of fishing isn’t the same when your inbox is buzzing every five minutes. Getting lost in a wonderful book is impossible if you’re simultaneously fielding tweets and Facebook updates.
By staying connected all the time, we ensure that we never truly go “away.” And the resulting losses are massive. Our souls crave the release summer once offered. We needto cut loose now and then, sit quietly, take naps, dance in the moonlight. Those moments are exceedingly rare now, yet this is barely discussed, like a dirty secret nobody wants to mention.
Amy Langstaff has a wonderful piece today in The Mark about identity in Twitter. Well, worth the read:
People who disdain Twitter tend to assume that its users are too lazy to formulate a substantive statement, so they do the easy thing: they burp out little textual emissions whenever something pops into their usually vacant heads.
Many defenders of Twitter resent the suggestion that it's trivial. I mostly resent the suggestion that it's easy. Tweeting is hard. More broadly, status updates, blogging, presenting a version of yourself for mass consumption online is hard. Part CV, part stand-up routine, part cocktail party patter, online interaction is a gauntlet – especially for introverts. Indeed, despite suggestions in the 1990s that the internet might be a place where the shy, awkward, and unattractive could share their inner beauty in an egalitarian utopia as blind as justice, it turns out that online self-presentation is in many ways even more fraught than conference mixers and frat parties. (The tip of the iceberg: mistakes last forever and you can’t go home.)
This is a good blog entry, though. I don't have an iPad (yet) but I see the same phenomena they discuss, using the iPhone. Being the new junkie that I am, early on, I downloaded a number of news and magazine apps - some local news, Rachel Maddow, HuffPost, and a few others. Quite frankly, I prefer MobileRSS for reading any of it. It lets me tweet or e-mail or save to Instapaper and I'm happy. Perhaps I'll feel differently when using the iPad but I rather doubt it.
The advantage of the iPad is a big enough screen to be able to read these things comfortably. Safari will do just fine for reading the blogs and new sites I normally surf, and if they address the Flash issue, all the better (although lack of Flash hasn't yet been devastating for me on the iPhone). I see no reason to get all a dither about what the iPad is not, for new media. Can you still read what you want? Can you disseminate it effectively? Is it it portable and easy on the eye? Have we maintained the content? If so, to me, it's a good thing.
Hat tip to Dave Maass for the link. Who'd have guessed that something as silly as lolcats could reap that kind of fortune? Well, based on how many hits I took on the single Mary McCormack post (Thanks, Mary. Please say something else outrageous soon) and cat and dog videos as compared to posts about world hunger and poverty, I would have predicted it. But people need to feel good too. So I can haz more gud posts about cheezburgers sumtimez. kthxbai.
Mr. Huh, a 32-year-old entrepreneur, first became aware of I Can Has Cheezburger, which pairs photos of cats with quirky captions, after it linked to his own pet blog. His site immediately crumbled under the resulting wave of visitors.