Time & Attention are finite. 5


But the demands are infinite.

Merlin Mann, of 43Folders.com fame and MacBreak Weekly fame, gave a Google Tech Talk. I have just started it, but early on (at 6 minutes and 47 seconds) says the above and:

Where you put your time and attention says a lot about who you are…it says a lot about you as a human being. You have some idea in your head of all the stuff that is high priority to you, right. All the stuff that really matters. If I sat down and asked you what’s really important to you, you would go ‘oh my family and my church group and I’m a deacon.’ But then I go and look in your email box and your newsfeeds and your web browser if I went and got all CSI on that, what would the last two weeks of your electronic life say about how it maps to the stuff that you claim is really important?

Inbox
So, it seems reasonable to do such a survey. (As an aside, Mann lists his Religious Views on Facebook as “Chaotic Neutral.”) My inbox is hard to read, frankly, to parse it out to what is there. Of the three accounts that I regularly check, one is for beta testing correspondance, safely ignored for large stretches of time, one is for news groups, again safely ignored, and then my PSU mailbox. Of the first two, I have some 90 unread messages, but did reply to about 20 over the last 2 weeks (after only having read about that many). Not that much of my time spent there.

My PSU inbox is, of course, for work (and many family and friends too). I have not achieved an empty inbox because I use it for storage and the “unread” mark as a flag for followup (this in spite of the fact that Entourage has a very good Flag for followup feature). I know this is messy and bad practice, but that is later in Mann’s speech. 🙂 This is concerning what the content says about us. I should perhaps consider having family only mail my other, personal accounts (some do) but a quick glance tells me that the PSU inbox is 95% university or college related.

Newsfeeds
You can actaully see for yourself (if you are reading my blog at the site rather than in a newsreader) what feeds I follow on the right column of Targuman.org/blog. Of all those many feeds, I tend to skim over the Biblioblogs daily and read The Unofficial Apple Weblog once a day. So, religion and academic interests far outweigh my tech interests there (of course TUAW is kind of a one-stop-shop for my Apple news needs…).

Podcasts
I thought I would add this category since I listen most nights to podcasts while doing the dishes and walking my imaginary dog William Blake. You can find my list of podcasts that I regularly listen to here. I will say that I rarely listen to the religion podcasts listed because…well, they tend to be boring or, in the case of the NPR one, I have already heard the stories when they went out live.

Web Browsing
Hmmm. This is a bit of a challenge. I can easily tell you my number 1 web browsing, time wasting sites: comics. I read probably several hundred comics a day (I have never counted). That seems like a lot, and it is a lot of page hits, but it actually usually only takes about 15 minutes a day, just before bed time. Other than that, I am researching things for work, library, or reading news.

I am not sure what this says, but I think it is a good excercise and I will have to think more about my “results” and ponder what it might say about me.

Anyone else care to join me? What is in your Inbox, Newsfeed, or browser history?

The rest of the lecture is, by his own admission, applied common sense regarding keeping your inbox cleared and not allowing your email to rule your life. (Remember, he was giving this talk at Google! Talk about heresy!) The entire lecture by Mann (58 minutes), can be found here (or grab the mp3):

 

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