Posts concerning web-surfing

A Good Work Ethic

21:00 01 Mar 2010

I was catching up on a softer world recently, and came across this comic, which I think is one of their best.

Permalink     Comment     [, , ]    

I Just Want to Look Up One More Thing…

07:30 06 Sep 2009. Updated: 15:36 16 Nov 2009

Emily Yoffe has a Slate article about our compulsion to acquire new information—and how it means we’re extremely susceptible to addictive behaviors around Internet use. Critical points: we have drives for both pleasure and for “seeking”, and it is this latter drive that the modern always-online environment feeds. Or overfeeds.

I don’t know how accurate this journalistic take on neuroscientific discoveries is, but I do think that this would be a good article to have printed out, and highlighted, next to my computer.

Permalink     1 Comment     [, , , ]    

YouTube, Linkrot, and Blogging

22:04 18 May 2009

While randomly looking over one of my older posts last night, I realized that the YouTube video that it was centered around had been removed, making it pointless. This is extremely annoying, not just for me but for any reader of that post.

Permalink     3 Comments     [, , , ]    

cursor.org Closing

11:15 12 Oct 2008. Updated: 17:31 28 Jan 2009

For several years, I’ve read cursor.org more or less daily, and it has been one of my primary starting points for political news.

On Friday, due to ongoing resource problems, they suspended publication. I think that’s a major loss, given the amount of ground they covered. They did some good original research, but much of their value came from their aggregation/filtering role. With so much information out there, filtering is unbelievably important, and they did it really well. I hope they manage to get some funding and to come back.

Permalink     Comment     [, , ]    

Powers is Addictive

19:16 01 Apr 2008

I’ve been reading Powers again, because trade paperback #11 finally came out (I picked it up at Isotope, which seems like quite a cool store) and the damn thing is just as addictive as ever. 11 books in, and it still leaves me demanding more as soon as it’s done.

Permalink     Comment     [, , ]    


19:23 31 Mar 2008

I didn’t really take part, but apparently today was Run Some Old Web Browsers Day. I think my first exposure to a Web browser would have been around 1994, although the first time I could really play around with one was in a Humboldt University computer lab, I think, and that would have been 1995. Before that I was restricted to ftp and gopher, but was never that into either of them. I think I have some email from a little earlier than that.

Permalink     1 Comment     [, , ]    

A Cover by Who?

23:44 14 Mar 2008. Updated: 16:00 31 Jul 2009

Apparently this is a well-known internet meme at this point, but I had somehow missed the fact that William Shatner covered Pulp’s “Common People”.

Permalink     4 Comments     [, , ]    

Vengeance Appeal

23:13 26 Feb 2008

One of my internet bad habits is reading FARK.com. Occasionally I see worthwhile stuff there, and sometimes it keeps me connected with a certain aspect of the zeitgeist, but generally it falls squarely into the “time-wasting” category. Today, it managed to be quite depressing as well, due to the commentary on this incident: a woman was apparently threatened by a knife-wielding assailant; the woman called her husband; the husband showed up and shot at the assailant, missing; the assailant ran away; the husband got his SUV, pursued the assailant, hit him with the car, and then hit him with the car another two times, killing him. The prevailing FARK sentiment is that the husband is a hero for these actions.

Permalink     Comment     [, , ]    


23:51 27 Nov 2007

From the just-because-you-can-doesn’t-mean-you-should department: a web game that turns Pac-Man into a text adventure. Seriously.

Permalink     Comment     [, ]    


20:48 25 Nov 2007

I’ve been editing for most of the day, but there have been some distractions, and freerice.com is one of them. It’s a not-for-profit site that apparently uses ad revenue to give away rice through the United Nations World Food Program… and it’s also a vocabulary game. An addictive vocabulary game. It gives you a word, and you have to choose its meaning from a list of four.

Permalink     3 Comments     [, , ]    


23:55 23 Nov 2007. Updated: 01:19 24 Nov 2007

You’ve probably seen this already, but just in case… Chuck Norris has endorsed Mike Huckabee in one of the strangest political ads I’ve seen.

Permalink     Comment     [, , ]    

Cinematic Heights

23:52 19 Nov 2007. Updated: 23:02 20 Nov 2007
Permalink     Comment     [, ]    

Profound Argumentation

23:40 22 Oct 2007

Or maybe not… This evening I found myself perusing the WP:LAME page on Wikipedia, home to what the editors have chosen as the “lamest edit wars”. And wow, people do get very, very involved in long-running disputes over amazing things.

Permalink     Comment     [, , ]    

Blog Reading

22:54 18 Oct 2007

This is a list of the blogs and sites I read on a regular basis, not including those of friends.

Permalink     Comment     [, , , , ]    

The Allure of the iPhone

23:44 24 Sep 2007

When the iPhone came out a few months back, I had no desire to get one. It was massively hyped, but I’m not really an Apple fanboy, and there were too many downsides. The first downside, of course, was the $600 price tag. Apart from that, I couldn’t stand the fact that it’s so locked down, both in terms of the SIM card and the contract with AT&T, and in terms of the software applications. I already don’t like AT&T (who were Cingular back then), and want to get out of my contract so that I can get one that’s better tuned to my fairly sparse use of cellphone minutes—so having to sign up for a more expensive plan for an additional two years doesn’t sound good at all.

Permalink     Comment     [, , , , ]    

A Softer World

23:56 27 Jun 2007. Updated: 16:44 26 Aug 2009

I noticed the link to A Softer World on xkcd (which I’ve been reading for a while) today. And got hooked quite quickly. I love the humor, and I love the gut punches it delivers as well. This post is to tell you to read it (and xkcd, if you don’t already).

Permalink     Comment     [, , ]    


06:35 02 Jan 2007. Updated: 20:31 27 Jun 2013

I thought of that somewhat obvious term last night, while replying to Seth’s post for December. It seems useful.

The meaning is fairly clear: things that you do less because you really want to do them and more because they distract you—either from specific things, or from life in general.

Television is a fairly obvious one. I’ve managed to eliminate that, and it’s been good. I don’t really count films and books as distractions in the same way, although they can be sometimes. But generally they seem like focused activities that have something to them (there are many caveats here, naturally).

Gaming can be a distractivity. I’ve certainly used it as such many times in my life, especially when in college, around exam time. But it doesn’t have to be that. It can be a relaxed/relaxing, fun activity. It can also be a focused, challenging flow experience, which is what I tend to strive for when playing. However, the possibility for it to be different things can be dangerous, because it becomes really easy to convince yourself you’re doing it for the focused challenge while in fact you’ve fallen deep into the distraction valley.

It’s hard to tell the difference, though. And it’s certainly hard to define a difference. I suspect, though, that you usually know the difference. When it’s a distraction activity for me, I generally know it at some level, and part of what I’m trying to distract myself from is that knowledge…

However, I’m not too worried about gaming as distractivity right now. In fact, I don’t think I’m gaming enough—I need to get more MTG practice in, and work on my focus on that game. And increasing my daily dose of DDR wouldn’t hurt either.

The main distraction activity for me right now, and one that seems like a canonical example of the category, is web surfing. I just do it too much. There’s so much interesting stuff out there… and there’s so much useful and educational material out there, too. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from surfing, and that includes a lot that I use professionally.

But. But, much of the time it’s clearly something I’m doing to distract myself. It eats up time, and more than that, it eats focus. The habit of surfing to get away from something, as a soothing balm for some unpleasant occurrence, obviously leads (like any addictive thing) to turning to it more often, and most importantly turning to it whenever difficulty is encountered. And so I find myself increasingly likely to web surf when I run into some problem that’s hard to solve (this doesn’t include cases where I am trying to find the answer to the problem online)… twenty minutes later, the problem is still hard to solve, and I’m completely unfocused, and in fact I’ve pushed my mind into a mode where it expects to skip around, dealing only with pleasing and interesting tidbits.

It’s similar to channel surfing on television, except that you are more or less guaranteed to come across something interesting and appealing and even worthwhile. There’s just too much content out there not to. And that makes it even more dangerous, because it’s like a reward for the mind: do something unfocused and distractive for a while, then you get this goodie! So you’re reinforcing behavior you want to reduce.

I’ve cut down on a lot of the distraction activity. No television, and I spend a lot more time engaged in projects like writing and coding. These are good trends, ones I intend to continue. But sooner or later, I suspect that it’ll be necessary to proscriptively alter my web surfing habits.

Permalink     Comment     [, , , , , , , , ]