4:24:12 No Seconds

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 cell phone in hand and as affordable as the timepiece (a $20 Casio) that now sits unused in a bureau drawer, electronically expending its remaining 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 month. Plus a stopwatch, alarm, and backlighting. But sometimes, all you want is to tell time--nothing more.

My new wristwatch tells hours and minutes. No seconds. The Stauer 1930 Dashtronic model is a 21-jeweled, automatic-winding replica of the watchmaker's art as machinery in miniature from an Industrial Age, gauge-happy past, when "numbers" were sought and read with possibly more reverence, not flung our way with digital promiscuity.

[stauer wristwatch]

Besides a stylish presentation of what I need to tell time, I get the bonus of a comfortable leather watch band. 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 Overload. Never in human history have we been able to instantly access so much of the world's knowledge database from something as compact and handy as a smartphone. But we can't drink Niagara Falls. We must make choices.

For myself, I apply a rule of "Enough information to decide. Any excess wastes my attention and risks bad decisions."

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 schema 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 are no less of a health risk!

Read more ...
(click to enlarge image)

The Cat at Light's End

Read Charlie Dickinson's story collection, The Cat at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable formats:

.mobi (Kindle)
.epub (most other readers)
.pdf (for PCs)

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