Social media overdose

Of late, I was contemplating upon how I seem to have no time for the things I want to do. While I’m guilty of whiling away time playing games or watching TV, these are things that eat up my time consciously. But, even these activities do not seem to add up to all the time lost doing things I don’t even consider productive. And so, I have begun a hunt to track down those certain activities which are stealing my time.

All this may sound ridiculous – that’s how I felt at the beginning too. I discovered a trend in the way I assimilated/operated on information (mostly restricted to information on the internet). There are many ways in which I obtain information from the vastness of the internet. Many of these are not the direct source of the information but they are aggregates such as Google Reader Feedly, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, email newsletters, and the search giant Google itself.

In truth, my predicament is a direct result of the way in which I consumed information from these sources. Through Feedly, I found an effective way to subscribe to a website’s updates via RSS. This is perhaps the least distracting of all my methods. Because, here, I find just the content that I wish to read – no ads*, related articles, or “unwanted” links.

Email newsletters to an extent behave the same way. I receive regular updates from sources that I have subscribed to. And the new Gmail interface definitely helped reduce clutter in my inbox.

Google or any search engine, in general, is an opt-in method of looking for information. I go there only to find something I want to know more about. For instance, my most recent visit to Google was to find a solution to the annoying upgrade problem that Evernote has on windows!

Twitter is where I follow like-minded people and is where I get most of the information related to programming and technology. The good thing about twitter is if you followed the right people, you’ll get curated information that is worthy of reading. Not just the 140-character message, but also the links that are shared there.

Google+ hasn’t probably received the widespread adoption that Google has hoped for, but this has helped me in some way. Google+ is more like twitter. You add people to circles synonymous with following someone on twitter as opposed to adding a friend and being approved – like on Facebook. I mainly follow Android, Google related sources on G+.

And then there’s Facebook. Facebook is an unpaid, overly curious, seductive and yet unconcerned psychiatrist! It’s free. It accepts any bullshit you spew. It mesmerizes you to return to it often. And yet it remains distant to who you really are. In short, it is an extremely glorified shrink!

Unlike
It’s not you, it’s me.

Honestly, I do not have a problem with it. Like I said before, it has more to do with the way I process information than how Facebook is to be perceived – It is probably doing exactly what it was designed to do. And so, much of what can be found on Facebook is more opinionated and less informative. And I’ve had it! Here’s to a hiatus from Facebook – “I’m sorry dear. It’s not you, it’s me.”

Attention to detail and user experience

Great works of art and architecture live through ages and are appreciated, and criticized likewise. While their exuberance and extravagance strike us the most, it is the fine attention to detail that grab the appreciation (and/or criticism) of the finer eye. People spend a good portion of their earnings on holidays, visiting places of historical and architectural marvel each year. Visiting such places is not a profitable act (at least, not in terms of monetary gain), however one does gain an experience out of it. And many studies have indicated that spending on experiences builds a richer and happy life than purchasing the latest gadget that’s out in the market.

Visiting a well-built website designed for accessibility is also an experience. Many websites have realized this and there has been a huge improvement in terms of time and resource dedicated to user experience when building a website. One example that I noticed was the recent change in the dashboard of Tumblr where adding a quote would automatically truncate and create a 140-char twitter message (If enabled). Before this update, I had to manually copy the quote and paste it into the twitter box and truncate the message manually. I was impressed by this little feature that reiterates the wonderful things Tumblr has been doing to improve user experience. On the upside, the new feature would save about 15-20 seconds of my time each time I post.

P.S.: The new feature has not been advertised anywhere on their staff blog or the design blog or the engineering blog. A silent, likable update. 🙂 Try tumbling if you haven’t already. You will be bowled over by its simplicity and ease of use.