Thursday, 10 June 2010

If you make sure you're connected, the writing's on the wall

As we drove to pick his mother up from the train station this evening, my close to three year old son told me: "Abba [that's me], when we wait in the car for mommy to come out of the station, can we watch a video on your iPhone?"
Aside of being able to make quite articulate statements for his age, my son was pointing at a certain inconvenient truth. I always needed some sort of a sophisticated spatula in order to peel me off my computer and the internet, but since the iPhone burst into the scene it had become a virtual part of my hand. There's a good reason for it: with my determination to keep ahead with the stuff that interests me, I find that I need to have a constant link with the internet if only to keep up to date. While it is obvious the iPhone has had a major part in helping me connect with web resources I now consider a part of my daily routine, it is obvious I am aspiring to keep up with more than I can chew.
Check the following rough overview of my daily internet routine:
  1. Google Reader: By far the most useful resource for keeping myself up to date, I use Google Reader to keep myself up to date with my favorite blogs and my favorite friends' web resources, including their photos and home videos.
  2. Twitter: Although I'm over my initial infatuation with Twitter, there can be no denying the fact that by now I learn about the more interesting events taking place in this world through Twitter. With its short SMS like format and the democracy of its message distribution (unlike Facebook, where stuff is only between "friends"), Twitter is by far the most effective meme distribution facility I am aware of.
  3. Boing Boing: Although this is just one of the many blogs I follow using Google Reader, Boing Boing is very much like Twitter in the sense that it is a venue for keeping me up to date with the more interesting things taking place in the world. Unlike Twitter, though, Boing Boing is rich with substance. Examples include the latest scientific discoveries on Titan, the latest Wikileaks escapades, and the latest on copyright legislation in Britain. My favorite writer there is Cory Doctorow, who is an advocate for sharing information (as in an anti copyright advocate); the fact he's also a science fiction author that, true to his word, allows his books to be downloaded for free only excites me further.
  4. Pharyngula: PZ Myers and his scientific blog Pharyngula have been mentioned in this blog many a time and for a very good reason. The combination of Myers' prolific scientific, humanistic and atheistic writing makes for what is clearly my favorite blog.
  5. IT Wire: My daily source of Australian and international IT news.
  6. Sport update: Depending on the sporting event taking place, I get my sporting kick from some of several sources. Most notable are my daily Google News email on the latest Arsenal news and Ronen Dorfan's Hebrew speaking blog on international sports.
  7. The Age: My main source of Australian news. Since there is not much going on in Australian news, I find myself spending most of my time reading their opinions section and the letters to the editor.
  8. The Guradian: Since installing their iPhone app I find this British newspaper irresistible. The mix of relevant news, technology, science and environment updates is second to none. It's just the best credible international source of news I am aware of. I also happen to be developing special affection to their weekly technology podcast.
  9. Haaretz: Simply the best source of Israeli news, in the sense of it being a newspaper with proper values of journalism (as opposed to the more yellowish stuff that prevails all over the world). Given its values it makes for a pretty good international newspaper too, although the inevitable shadow of the Arab-Israeli conflict means too much of the paper is dedicated to covering that. Oh, it's also available in English.
  10. Facebook: By now my least favorite form of being socially aware given its privacy issues and the shallowness that prevails there, Facebook is still a good way to keep up to date with the interest groups I subscribe to even if Twitter does a better job. Like it or not, Facebook is my only connection with some of my friends and family.
Looking at the above list it becomes clear that my need to keep up to date with all of these resources borders into the obsessive compulsive range. Indeed, I admit this pursuit of mine is unsustainable. One way or another I will have to cut down on my internet consumption there, simply because there aren't enough minutes of the day to allow me to do them all. The important thing for me is to recognize the problem and to start taking measures: Facebook has already been significantly relegated, and using Twitter's lists features I was able to narrow down my Twitter consumption as per specific interests.
My closing comment is aimed at those who think that my keeping up to date with the world is a fruitless attempt to catch more than I can grab. My reply to such an argument would be that our world was never as complicated as it is now and never before has so much information been so easily available; arguing I'm obseesive compulsive or anything similar would be a tough call to justify given the undeniable fact our world has grown so complicated that keeping up to date with it has never been as hard as it currently is. Back in Da Vinci's time people were able to specialize in everything; today being a Da Vinci is impossible. Yet this doesn't mean one should avoid trying to become as close to Da Vinci as one can be.

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