Skip to main content

Distracted by Everything

I get distracted easily. While I prefer to think of it as a curious mind eager to learn, the truth is that I end up following tangents that consume hours.

I'll be reading something for work and encounter some little factoid that demands exploration. The next thing I know, an hour has been lost to reading about the history of Amish quilt designs. There's nothing too obscure or too mundane; every bit of information leads to a dozen more bits.

My wife and I share a passion for information and often watch History, Discovery, Science, and the other educational cable networks. While watching, I'll sit with my laptop and search for the sources they cite. My wife will do the same, especially while watching the Food Network.

It isn't a problem to follow tangents while watching television or reading for enjoyment. It is a problem when you can't resist the tangents while working. And… I can seldom resist.

The mix of Google Bookmarks, Safari's Reading List, and the wonderful "Save As Webarchive" feature have allowed me to save some articles for later reading, but it is still difficult to set something aside for later. I have a folder on my each of my computer systems named "Research" with more than a dozen categories within that folder. At the moment, there are 1,175 items in the folders (1.12 gigabytes of data). There's more, but those files are in other research folders for current projects.

This weekend, I'm working on a report for the university. The research leads me in dozens of different directions. Inevitably, I spend an hour here and an hour there off on those tangents. While working on a proposal for writing courses, I find myself reading about online education, the psychology of writers, and trends in technical communication.

Instead of skimming university course catalogs, I end up reading the detailed course descriptions and visiting writing program websites. The courses sound so interesting, I am compelled to read the syllabi and then research yet more. The right approach is to skim, take notes, and move on with my work. But, I love information.

A class on medical rhetoric? Of course I'm going to save the reading list and start researching the topic. Oh, and who wouldn't be interested in the rhetoric of physics? Yes, there is such a thing. As a fan of the Science Channel and Prof. Michio Kaku, how could I not wonder what the reading list for a course called "The Rhetoric of Physics" includes? Science is a series of ongoing debates.

Maybe you can understand my problem. There's so much information out there, so much knowledge to attempt to grasp, and I want to learn everything.

Even as I write this, I'm pondering a half-dozen or more things I'd like to research about research tools. Which web bookmarking tools are best? What's the best way to grab articles for later reading? Is my research properly organized?

At least my wife loves learning as much as I do. She's also compulsive at organizing data and information.

Comments

  1. My brother and I read our way through every available encyclopedia before there was the internet. The library is still my favorite place to be. I therefore completely understood this post and enjoyed reading it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is what makes the internet so amazing to me. If I have a question about something, off I go to World Wide Web land. I can get very distracted for hours doing this, is that a bad thing? I don't think so. If I save something for later reading, however, I seldom get back to it, I am usually interested in something else and have moved on, I should stick to it more.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Comments violating the policies of this blog will not be approved for posting. Language and content should be appropriate for all readers and maintain a polite tone. Thank you.

Popular posts from this blog

Autism, Asperger's, and IQ

"Aren't people with Asperger's more likely to be geniuses? Isn't genius related to autism?"

A university student asked this in a course I am teaching. The class discussion was covering neurological differences, free will, and the nature versus nurture debate. The textbook for the course includes sidebars on the brain and behavior throughout chapters on ethics and morality. This student was asking a question reflecting media portrayals of autism spectrum disorders, social skills difficulties, and genius.

I did not address this question from a personal perspective in class, but I have when speaking to groups of parents, educators, and caregivers. Some of the reasons these questions arise, as mentioned above, are media portrayals and news coverage of autism. Examples include:
Television shows with gifted characters either identified with or assumed to have autistic traits: Alphas, Big Bang Theory, Bones, Rizzoli and Isles, Touch, and others. Some would include She…

Listen… and Help Others Hear

We lack diversity in the autism community.

Think about what you see, online and in the media. I see upper-middle class parents, able to afford iPads and tutors and official diagnoses. I see parents who have the resources to fight for IEPs and physical accommodations.

I see self-advocacy leadership that has been fortunate (and hard working, certainly) to attend universities, travel the nation (or even internationally), and have forums that reach thousands.

What I don't see? Most of our actual community. The real community that represents autism's downsides. The marginalized communities, ignored and excluded from our boards, our commissions, our business networks.

How did my lower-income parents, without college educations, give me a chance to be more? How did they fight the odds? They did, and now I am in a position of privilege. But I don't seem to be making much of a difference.

Demand that your charities seek out the broadest possible array of advisers and board members.…

Life Updates: The MFA Sprint

Life is okay, if more than a little hectic at the end of this first month.

With one month down, I'm 11 months away from my MFA in Film and Digital Technology. Though things might happen and things do go wrong, so far I'm on schedule and things are going well —— though I'm exhausted and working harder than I did for any other degree. Because the MFA requires projects every week, this isn't as easy to schedule as writing. Even researching a paper can be done from the comfort of home, at any hour.

You cannot make movies by yourself, at any time of day. It doesn't work that way. Filming takes time, and often requires a team of people. It's not comparable to working alone on a degree in writing or rhetoric.

The team-based nature of film is exhausting for me, but I enjoy the results. I also like the practical nature of the skills being taught. You either learn how to adjust ISO, f/Stop, shutter speed, and other variables or you don't. You can have theories …