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Sucked in and stuck on the web

I saw a fair amount of tweets about “Growing Up Distracted,” an article in the New York Times. I'm not entirely sure I buy that this generation is really any different from previous generations, at least at a fundamental level. I think the specific nature of the distractions changes, but young people have always had things that distract them from schoolwork or chores, or whatever they're supposed to be paying attention to.

Admittedly, though, the multitasking nature of today's social network (texting, emailing, posting on Facebook, etc,) would tend to exacerbate a tendency to a short attention span. I find something similar in writing. When I'm immersed in a story at the first draft stage— actually writing the narrative— I have to forgo TV watching and Internet surfing almost entirely. But when I'm at the polishing stage, where I go over and over the same chunk of text, I find that the work is so much more of a drain that I have to take a break from time to time. And on the web, there is always something going on.

Here are some examples of my recent distractions:

Someone is working on making e-paper out of paper!
James Frey proves he is both crass and unscrupulous. John Scalzi had some of the most cogent comments about that whole kerfuffle.
I'm not buying any stock in Borders any time soon.
It is pretty amazing the things people decide to invent, witness this machine that lays down a brick road like it was frosting out of a tube.
The TSA is hiring idiots and giving them power over people.
Some people clearly have too much time on their hands.

And now I think I'll go back to something productive. Like Twitter.

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( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 23rd, 2010 02:26 am (UTC)
I think the difference between distractions then and distractions now is the immediacy of it all. No more staring at clouds when there are hundreds of chanels to click through, or an internet full of porn to surf. ;)
Nov. 23rd, 2010 02:27 am (UTC)
There is PORN on the Internet? Really! -)
Nov. 23rd, 2010 02:29 am (UTC)
Um...I wouldn't...erm...know about anything like...um...I mean...

Nov. 23rd, 2010 12:25 pm (UTC)

I, um, have to go conduct some research.
Nov. 23rd, 2010 01:07 pm (UTC)
Sure, Mike. Just make sure no one is around. You need privacy to do research. -)
Nov. 23rd, 2010 09:11 am (UTC)
Man, that Frey stuff has just proved to be a BIG distraction. Thanks.
Nov. 23rd, 2010 12:24 pm (UTC)
You want to know the ironic thing? I was just at our local Borders last night, and they finally saw the light about how they were stocking the SFF section. Someone finally realized that SFF isn't solely Asimov, Butcher, Brooks, Hobb, Herbert, Harris, and Kenyon. For about a year, those authors were taking up an entire row each, and now their space has been reduced while other authors have been stocked.

Nov. 23rd, 2010 01:06 pm (UTC)
Oh, and I loved your comment on Whatever.
Nov. 23rd, 2010 01:08 pm (UTC)
Which one?
Nov. 23rd, 2010 01:16 pm (UTC)
Reminds me of people who say, “With all due respect,” before they insult you.

Nov. 23rd, 2010 01:20 pm (UTC)
Oh, that one! Yeah, I hate that.
Nov. 23rd, 2010 01:08 pm (UTC)
At this point, that might be rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
Nov. 23rd, 2010 01:12 pm (UTC)
Maybe so, but a big part of my dissatisfaction with Borders was due to their screwing around with the stacks like this. Trying to emphasize only a few authors at the expense of a lot of other really good ones is akin to over-thinning the seedlings in a garden: some thinning is necessary, but if you remove too much you might not get that 10'x10' corn plot to actually produce anything.
Nov. 23rd, 2010 01:14 pm (UTC)
>Trying to emphasize only a few authors at the expense of a lot of other really good ones

I have the same complaint about a lot of publishers.
Nov. 23rd, 2010 01:19 pm (UTC)
That's the thing. It happens at the publisher's level, and by the time Borders does it there's almost nothing left.
Nov. 23rd, 2010 09:02 pm (UTC)
I agree. I think the distraction/attention span thing is totally overblown.

And that's sad about Borders :(
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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