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RII & "What would Descartes subscribe to?"

Rands In Repose: Repetitive Information Injury

The other day someone asked if all my hot-roddding, organization, and Mac fu have truly made me any more "productive," and I said what I usually say: "Yeah, on most days, absolutely. But sometimes I'm just procrastinating with lightning efficiency."

A couple years back, Rands in Repose came up with the term Nerd Attention Deficiency Disorder (or "NADD"), and recently he took the concept a bit further with "Repetitive Information Injury."

Know the signs. As described above, RII is when you're stuck in a consumption loop. Your brain is thinking it's more important to continue to find something to soak in rather than moving on to your next project. It's tricking you into continuing with thoughts like, "Hey, it just takes a second to press that Get Email button... or that Refresh Feeds button.... go for it man! You never know when you'll hit the information gold-mine!" Problem is, those seconds turn into minutes... and you're suddenly staring at the same pages, listening to the same JUST DO IT advice, and suddenly 30 minutes have passed and you haven't actually done anything...

The tools at our disposal give us an unprecedented ability to create unmanageable and distracted lives for ourselves; it's like we've attacked the "needle in a haystack" problem by focusing on the supply chain for delivering new hay every quarter-hour. Not to say I'm not frequently doing this myself, but it is interesting to consider how most of us are using the previously-unthinkable ability to find and consume any piece of extant information we could ever want all the time, any time.

I'll bet Descartes, Mozart, and Aristotle would each have been a lot less productive if they were receiving constant SMS updates on Tara Reid's boobs. Just something to think about.

[ RII link via Mike Brodhead. ]

shtikl's picture

Mozart was writing music so...

Mozart was writing music so he could pay his bills, just like Shakespeare was writing his plays, or Jack London or many others who made art in order to live. The last one mentioned was popular for paying people for giving him fresh ideas he could incorporate into stories. Is that maximum effectivenes or what?

Now let's talk about philosophy for a second.

Descartes' most popular work are the "Meditationes". They are a big opus, logically coherent, a piece of art as much as some of world's most influential philosophy. (Even if most philosphers and popular knowledge only rarely goes beyond something like Medidation 2 or 3, but that is a different subject alltogether.) There is no doubt that Descartes has used and would have used today a tool which was or is state of the art - why shouldn't he? In his dayjob he was a bright and inventive mathematician, not some archaic pseudo-saint!

Now Aristoteles is a different subject alltogether. Actually the works we have from him aren't his works but more or less collected writings from his students who had jotted down their Master's thoughts and ordererd them like they thought appopriate. Is that Blogstyle or what? (Actually A. had written some books on popular science, his "exoteric" books, but they are lost alltogether.)

But why don't we look at an modern philosopher - what about David Chalmers. He is "major league" for sure. You find his blog "Fragments of Consciousness" at fragments.consc.net.

In any case, listen up, writing folks: Use the tools that make YOU write good stuff. For some of us that may be a Moleskine (I use that for drawing), for some a Wiki or Devonthink. When is a tool "good"? When it makes YOU produce damn good texts. It's that easy.

Rock on! :-)





An Oblique Strategy:
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