The internet is a beautiful place. You can learn anything for free, and it speeds up our productivity considerably. However, as more people start using broadband connections and new technologies, it’s much easier to become bombarded with information. Emails, blogs, forums, IM, etc… pretty soon you’re spending the bulk of your day managing those inputs.
Enter the RSS reader. Now you can track umpteen sites in one place. This time-saver means that you can read and learn more in the same amount of time, thus making us smarter.
Or does it?
In theory, the more we are able to read, the more we’re able to know. Sounds pretty simple, right? It actually isn’t. Because now we’ve introduced a mindset that skimming is the new black. How else can you keep up with all the happenin’ stuff going on around the web, 24/7? If you don’t skim the news, you’re pretty much a loser. Even on playgrounds kids who don’t skim Dr. Seuss get beat up and have their lunch money stolen. Okay… maybe it hasn’t gotten that far into our society, but it’s close. Real close.
R.P. Carver did a study in 1992 on speed reading courses that mainly were based on skimming and found the comprehension rates were 50% lower than those who actually read the book verbatim. That’s not good.
Ken Camp’s blog makes a strong point that our hyperconnectivity to the web might actually be a bad thing.
In our hyperconnected state, as we master multitasking, are we losing depth? There are many subjects I feel I barely touch on the surface. Weâ€™ve become much a society of bullet points, sound bites and buzz phrases. I attribute it to the Death by Powerpoint syndrome that has gone beyond meetings. We donâ€™t just die by Powerpoint bullets on slides in meetings. We die a little each day as we snapshot the world around us into buzz phrases and bullet points that are our day. We have become masters of the bullet point at the cost of true depth in understanding in many ways.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
Fortunately, there is a way out of it. But you’re not going to like it, at least at first. The solution: The Internet Diet. Cut back on your daily intake of RSS and other news sources. Force yourself to read nearly all of your news from start to finish. I’ve written about a few ways to do this before:
Treat Your RSS feeds like a book
Triage your RSS
Another great tip is to start reading books. A book is an investment, so there’s more incentive to read it start-to-finish. But most people don’t know how to actually pull themselves away from the computer long enough to do that. For some general ways to limit your time on the computer:
What tips do you guys have to keep the number of news inputs to a minimum? Or how to limit computer time in general? All thoughts are welcome in the comments…