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Newness Junkie

May 31, 2011

The Internet is sort of like this video.  Hell, life is a lot like the video, a chaotic mess that our brains frantically attempt to organize. But, at least for me, in the case of the Internet, that snow stuff is not falling off-screen but flying at my brain.

Numbers! After sleeping and grooming, there’s something like 450 hours of usable hours in a month. In a regular month I personally receive about 10 hours of classical/jazz/new music on CD. The radio station receives about 160 hours of music a week, of which, maybe 10 catch my attention. On top of this, I click on about 8 hours of music a month through twitter, facebook, or Google reader, and my podcast playlist is almost 15 hours a month. That is 43 hours of audio alone if I only listen to each CD once, which I make a point not to. That also assumes I don’t listen to anything else, but I’ve been listening to Who Killed Amanda Palmer all day, so that’s obviously not true.

In addition, I probably watch about 8 hours of television Doctor Who a month and a wildly unpredictable amount of television and video games, depending on my current addiction level to whatever I’m blazing through on Netflix or XBox. I also try to read, and according to Google reader, I looked at 3,813 blogs in the last 30 days, ranging from funny pictures to minor essays. That doesn’t count things I click on from my social media contacts. That is, let’s say about 15% of my week dedicated just to absorbing stuff, at minimum.

I’m delighted by new sounds (new things in general) to the point that I would say I’m a ‘Newness Junkie.’ I’m not a typical user by any stretch, but I am extremely good at organizing this information overload, based on a variety of best practices, acquired skills, and most importantly useful tools. I think this is an important skill for anyone, regardless of how much new music or words you want to get your hands on. After all, the point is to get off the Internet and do stuff with it.

The first best practice is to always go first to e-mail, then Google Reader, and then various social networks. The general theory is to first deal with content that was directed specifically towards me (and generally needs response), then to go through news, opinions, and various items that I have pre-selected as important, and then to finally dive into the vast ocean of mindless banter, unsolicited links, and occasional conversation topics. This helps me keep sane and relatively prioritized. The other best practice is to bookmark those links that are worthwhile with some words about why you’ll remember it later. That is, in essence, what my links posts are. Yes, it is a totally selfish endeavor.

As far as skills, I really can’t articulate it any better than to say over time I’ve developed a pretty good rejection filter for stuff that won’t interest me. This takes some time and work, but its worth it.

As far as tools, I can’t recommend enough Google Reader. The folders are highly organized not just by content (music, art, news, money, games, fun, friends) but also by how often the content is important.  For example, I will read a new update on John Adams’ Hell Mouth relatively immediately. I will only check in with a website that posts a ton of content (say Daily Kos or the Escapist) every so often because I don’t want to be running to Google Reader every ten minutes. The folders are crucial. Also crucial are those minutes waiting in line for things when I can go to those less checked folders and click-through the nonsense.

I also very much prefer Tweetdeck over everything else, since I really like their information streams. I update multiple twitter accounts and have words from all sorts of people floating around, so its important that I can cut out what I don’t want to access. I’m currently testing out the ‘deck with facebook to see if I can weed myself off the “click refresh to get a new chunk of data” habit on facebook’s web service. That’s the new best practice I’m working on.

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