The iPad Dilemma – Brilliant Distraction

So I love my iPad, and wonder if I should give it away.

I’ve rejected that option, so I’ve got to come at the management of the onslaught of information (really terrific and entertaining information) in a new way.  Between Flipboard’s visual delivery of Twitter and Facebook feeds, not to mention the curated brilliance of sites like Brainpickings, The Cool Hunter, and Psychology Today’s Positive Psychology site (not to mention art that goes on forever), I’m usually in a sort of state that reminds me of a friend’s comment after consuming a very big bowl of macha.  Of the caffeine’s impact on her she remarked, “My eyeballs were literally trembling.”

Well, my spiritual eyeballs are trembling, and my philosophical and theological heart is beating pretty hard with the assault of a world gone crazy and beautiful all at the same time.

How can you resist the brilliance of all the gorgeous images?  The World We Live In is enough to push anybody into immediate, drop jawed praise.  How about the constant smartness (and stupidity, granted) of writers on both sides of the political aisle, not to mention the dazzle of the Twitterverse’s constant critique of…well, everything.  Read, look, read, look, read, look.   If thinking gets stuck in there somewhere, all the better.   But be ready to revise your thinking because more information is on the way!

Come on people, we’re not synthesizing all this, surely.   Well, maybe you are.

So help me out.   Give me your best shot at what you’re doing to limit the onslaught.   And I’m happy to be made fun of for jumping into the stream with both feet (as in, I told you so…), but what I’m more interested in are the practical strategies you’re actually using.

I’m excited to be on the ride that is our post postmodern, digital rocketship (burning intellectually green fuel, surely), but man, I’m thinking I need a slow stroll in the park with some poetry.

But can I live with what I’d miss?

You tell me…

8 Comments

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  1. I have a similar problem, but with a different app that does the same thing, Google Reader. I was obsessed with clearing my unread count, now I’m ok with having 1000 unread. I had to remember that in the past I wasn’t receiving this information and I was just fine.

    Since I want to spend more time developing my deep thinking and creative processes, I decided to lower the priority of this type of reading. I now quickly skim titles in list mode for the really good, or most pertinent information and I star them for later. Google Reader comes with two home screen widgets that help me with this technique. They both show a quick summary and link, but one is specifically for starred items and the other for unread. That way I’m reminded of those items randomly as when I happen to visit the home screen.

    That leaves me more time to read books about how technology is affecting or brain, like Jaron Lenier’s “you are not a gadget: a manifesto” and Nicholas Carr’s “the shallows: what the internet is doing to our brains.”

    Does that fall under the definition of irony?

    • I’ve read “The Shallows.” Good read. Definitely ironic. I haven’t used Google Reader much. It’s on Flipboard, but I never make it to that square. Thanks for the thoughts. You’re right…it’s all about prioritizing.

  2. My college chemistry professor defined genius as “someone who knows everything there is to know about one thing and a little bit about everything else.” Paul said, “I am determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” He also said, “In Him all things hold together.” If Paul’s first statement seems to contradict the professor’s, the second might confirm it. I think Paul experienced the truth of Jesus’ statement: “If you are my disciples, You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

    I grew up in an atmosphere of fear of learning anything that might contradict what we had already been taught. But Jesus said, “Do not be afraid,” and “Consider the lilies….” I’m nowhere close to being a genius, but I thank God for His permission to explore His Word and His creation and to be blessed by what others have learned and to reject the trash. This takes discernment, which is also a promised gift.

    • Discernment…that would be the key. And discipline. I also agree about the knowing one thing and a little about everything else. It’s getting harder to do in this ol’ world of ours. Thanks, Neita.

  3. I’ve missed your blog for a week or so, I’m glad to know it was that you were consumed with your iPad!

    I’ve been playing with an iPad for about 2 months now. My tech-guy says it can replace my trusty Powerbook. Strangers on airplanes have told me that my iPad is just a big iPhone (amazing the liberties people will take with technology opinions).

    This isn’t exactly the question you’re asking but it’s on my mind and so I’ll be like other strangers and give my opinion…for me it is about the right tool and the right balance. For, headdown serious writing or number crunching I have to have my laptop. For most calls and music in the truck, it’s the iPhone. For surfing and reading it’s the iPad (I’m a Pulse fan for website and online info). All push clips, info and notes to one Evernote notebook, all nicely synced on all of ’em.

    BUT for me, bottomline I can’t ever be “killing time” with this stuff. When I lose intentionality, I’ve lost my way.

    So to your question, I think, I try to use the right tools for me and make sure that they work…no fiddling around or work-arounds or nearly working. Either flawless and easy or not at all.

    And no “mindless surfing. Pulse has helped me with that. I have the blogs/sites loaded I read them and when I’m done, I’m done. It reduces the times that I look up and I wonder where that hour went. Hate that feeling.

    That’s what I think. I love reading what you think. Thanks for sharing and asking.
    st

    • My problem is that intentionality itself has so many prongs. I like the way you’ve got your tools apportioned, and its very much what I’m trying to get to. Writing and number-crunching, as you say, on the laptop, reading on the iPad, and music and on the go stuff, the phone. Mindless surfing is an interesting thing. I agree, but sometimes surfing down a particular stream without a particular goal doesn’t have to be mindless, but is more like taking a walk with my camera. I don’t know what I’m looking for, but when I see it, I start to shoot. Much of my creativity is like that, sort of scavenger-ish. Makes surfing harder to resist. You may just have more mental discipline. But that’s the name of the game if we want to make these tools work.

      Thanks, Steve

  4. Jeff – I too suffer from Philomathic tendencies. When I first began using Google Reader, I had more blogs on hand than I could ever delve into. So I moved to daily folders. I put an equal number of blogs into each and disciplined myself to read only what was on tap for that day, but the links in those posts – holy-moly they were fascinating. My mental digressions went on for a couple of hours. Phase 2 was then to limit myself to only 6-daily blogs, and to only 90-minutes of exploration. Phase 3 was then to eliminate any blogs that I really wasn’t “using” (that didn’t advance my art-making). And finally, Phase 4 has been to also limit the days – only two mornings a week – I would read. The end result is that though I too drink from the stream, I only take in what I really need and must allow the rest to flow on by for others. If I allow myself to sit and enjoy the stream too much, I’ll never get any of my art made.

  5. Thanks for the breakdown of your journey. Sounds like a prescription. It’s a weaning process. But I’m the same. What’s the quote about having to decide if I’m going to enjoy the world today or change it? Take in or make? It’s a little of both, but I’m pretty sure it used to be easier to build the fences necessary to make in a focused environment.

    Thanks, Lew.

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