Technology: November 2005 Archives

Paul Ford writes on two different kinds of distraction, one good and one not so good:

But when wide distractions are available I avoid the narrow distractions, and those are the useful distractions. Let's say you're thinking hard about a concept--say, kittens. Kittens are young cats. They have paws and they are sometimes friendly. Your stepmother, you remember, didn't let you have a kitten. Why was that? Was she allergic, or did she really just hate you? Now, that's something worth thinking about. A concept worth exploring. That's a narrow distraction, a good distraction.

But with a wide distraction you think about kittens and all of a sudden your email pops up and you're thinking about Viagra, and about how horrible the world is and how it's filled with rapacious greedy spammers. You're not able to think about kittens any more so you check out the news to find out that China has a manned space program. Click. And that peak oil is a real problem and we might be living in an age where electricity becomes prohibitively expensive. Click. And that Apple just released a new iPod again, and everyone is all aflutter. There's really no way to bring all of that back to kittens. You've been broadly distracted. You might as well play some solitaire and go to bed.

In another article, he writes about how he copes with the temptation to broad distraction from his computer -- he uses Word Perfect for DOS and a little electronic keyboard that does nothing but store the text that you type for basic composition and editing.

And lately Iíve been working hard to become more productive. Iíve started quit every application that isnít relevant to the issue at hand and tried my damnedest only to allow the good distractions to come in the door, rather than to let the broad, wide world in at all times. I try not to multitask when I can help it. I think of this as "Amish Computing." You push the worldly things away because they distract you from your goals.

I actually came across these a few days ago and was going to post something about them, but I got... well, you know.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Technology category from November 2005.

Technology: October 2005 is the previous archive.

Technology: February 2006 is the next archive.

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