I got a new wristwatch a few weeks ago.
These days, timekeeping--accurate to a
satellite-relayed atomic-calibrated second--is as convenient as a
phone in hand and as affordable as the timepiece (a $20 Casio)
sits unused in a bureau drawer, electronically expending its
life before the battery goes flat.
Not that the Casio isn't capable: hours
(12/24-hr. formats), minutes, seconds, day of week, and day of
Plus a stopwatch, alarm, and backlighting. But sometimes, all you
is to tell time--nothing more.
My new wristwatch tells hours and
No seconds. The Stauer 1930 Dashtronic model is a 21-jeweled,
replica of the watchmaker's art as machinery in miniature from an
Industrial Age, gauge-happy past, when "numbers" were sought and
with possibly more reverence, not flung our way with digital
Besides a stylish presentation of what
need to tell time, I get the bonus of a comfortable leather watch
In contrast, the plastic wrist band of the Casio often felt like
something I looked forward to removing in the evening.
But more is at work (or play) here than
downgrading the time-based data I access.
No, I'm consciously choosing the
information I want, discarding the rest.
We live in an Age of Information
Never in human history have we been able to instantly access so
the world's knowledge database from something as compact and handy
smartphone. But we can't drink Niagara Falls. We must make
For myself, I apply a rule of "Enough
information to decide. Any excess wastes my attention and risks
My insight about consuming information mindfully is not original or new to me. It's been decades, for example, since I regularly watched TV. A few years ago, I tried an experiment in which all my Internet connectivity for a month was done via a battery-powered Palm Pilot. That made for thirty days of very limited Web surfing ... This experiment led to an essay I wrote: "My Internet Diet" that concluded, among other things, surfing on the Internet is no free ride when you have to keep replacing those disposable batteries.
In a similar mode, Wired (May 2012) has a brief
feature, "Kick Off Your Information Diet!" that gives a graphic
for all of us to get our Web surfing under control, based on ideas
promoted by Clay A. Johnson in his book The Information Diet.
We all know mindless eating leads to
obesity. Information binges that foster addicted, fragmented minds
no less of a health risk!
Read Charlie Dickinson's
story collection, The Cat
at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable
.epub (most other readers)
.pdf (for PCs)
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