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November 2, 2009

Restraining yourself from internet searching off course

(photo courtesy of K W Baker)

I admit that very often the minute I open my browser to look up one quick thing, at least 30 minutes pass before I shake myself out of my “internet coma”, which has inevitably led deep into the internet abyss and entangled me with things that are certainly not relevant or helpful (forget about related) to the work at hand!

Ah, the double edge sword of search. On the one hand, you can easily find information that would have previously taken you to a library (and maybe even microfiche film – does that even still exist?). But on the other hand, the possibility for distraction is endless and can easily take you off course and smack into an unproductive cycle of distraction and stress.

I wonder whether all this information that I discover is really useful Since I do not have a mechanism to “empty the trash” in my brain, isn’t it just taking up valuable space? Could that be why I have become so forgetful of things that are important or urgent (i.e. what did I need at the grocery store?).

I was thrilled to read Peggy Orenstein’s piece in the New York Times Magazine, Stop Your Search Engines that touched on this very topic. She shares an application that she has discovered (although it is only for Macs – boohoo!) called Freedom. On its site it is described as “an application that disables networking on an Apple computer for up to eight hours at a time” but the kicker is that “freedom enforces freedom” – I love that!

Perhaps it takes restraint in shutting off our internet, disabling our email and turning off our cell phone to focus, avoid distractions and get our work done. Personally, I can’t wait until the PC application comes out to try the experiment!!!

posted by Amy Abrams

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