Category Archives: Google

Information Overload

I’m suffering from information overload. Today, I determined which sources of media and information are vying for my attention . Here’s the quick list I came up with:

  • Google Reader
  • 100+ emails/day
  • GChat (often three conversations at a time)
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Phone calls/texts

Notes: Google Reader is a problem for me. I thought that one central location to read all of my favorite blogs would simplify my consumption. However, I now follow two news sources that often release 50+ posts per day — it’s too much. TV is noticeably absent from my list. Since I consume most all of my media through the internet, I only pay for basic cable.

It comes down to this: At some point, the wealth of information on the internet ceases to be useful and becomes overwhelming. It’s different for everyone, but I can now say that I’ve reached that point.

In response, I’ve taken some steps to filter the vast amount of information I consume. For example, I’ve unfollowed several Twitter feeds. When I began following them I didn’t realize that, more than any other media source, Twitter produces a lot of noise. Most tweets are marginally relevant and uninteresting to me.

On Facebook, I discovered a truly magical feature — mouse over any News Feed update and an X will appear in the top right corner. Click “Hide all by _____”. You’ll be freed instantly from that person’s incessant political ramblings, their daily personal crises, and any other updates that call into question their mental health.

The internet age has transformed us in to hyper-consumers with significantly reduced attention spans. Sadly, we’ve begun to treat all information as data to breeze through quickly. The subconscious tells us, “We better get going, there’s always more where that came from!” It takes a conscious decision to step back and determine whether or not our consumption is worth it or not. How do you define “worth it”? I’m going to leave it up to you.

Ramit summed it up nicely: “It’s so easy to consume. It’s much harder to produce something.” Now that I’ve tackled consumption, how can I step up production?

Browser Update

In my second ever blog post I sang the praises of Google Chrome. I’m sad to report that the honeymoon is now over.

Although I gave it very fair chance (over 6 months of use!), Chrome still has problems opening certain multimedia content such as Flash and PDF documents. Firefox and even *cough* Internet Explorer *cough* do not struggle with these 3rd party applications.

Another annoyance, albeit not directly related to Chrome, is the difficulty I’ve had synchronizing my bookmarks. The XMarks extension for Chrome has performed poorly. In fact, I’ve spent the last two hours deleting thousands of duplicate bookmarks in Chrome.

I’ve decided to switch back to Firefox. The browser’s loading time seems to have been greatly improved since I abandoned it in favor of Chrome — that’s the reason why I switched in the first place. Chrome is definitely blazing fast but, for now, I’m going back to a tried and true browser.

Google Chrome

I’m a believer — I’ve switched to Google Chrome. I had been a loyal Firefox user for some time until recently when the browser began taking ages to start up. Chrome, on the other hand, starts up incredibly fast and provides an attractive, minimalist interface. This goes along with the speedy browsing experience that makes Chrome so popular. The only thing holding me back was the lack of an XMarks client for the Chrome browser. XMarks is an excellent way to sync your bookmarks across different computers, browsers, and platforms. You should definitely check it out if you want a single, unified set of bookmarks/favorites across all your computers and browsers. Happily, the new Chrome Beta features extensions as Firefox has done for some time.  Now I can use XMarks along with Chrome — a great combo.

The Search

I just finished reading The Search by John Battelle. I enjoyed the book — it not only provided a great history of Google and its roots but also a vision of how search will evolve in the future. Battelle depicts search as an innate human desire: we are always searching for knowledge, whether it be recovery (finding something we’ve seen before) or discovery (finding something new). Internet search is simply the online manifestation of this desire. As more and more information is put online, we will increasingly rely on search to interact with the information we need. Google gained control of search simply because their algorithm worked the best, and there’s no reason to believe that it won’t get better and better as what Battelle calls the Database of Intentions grows larger and larger.