Maintaining Focus on the Internet

I become angry, furious even, when I hear, see, or read something about humans being victims of the internet. Supposedly, attention spans are shortened, and we are forced to switch from topic to topic. Consequently, we are exposed to volumes of information, but fail to develop knowledge or to understand topics in depth.

Now it is true that this can be the consequence if we are data driven by what pops up on the internet. But there is no excuse if we end up being victims of technology. Technology is a tool. A tool is something we use to accomplish some goal, not something to be victimized by.

So, when we get on the internet it should be with some goal or prioritized goals to accomplish. We need to maintain our focus to accomplish because never before have we had such a tool that enables us to learn so much in so short a time. First of all, we can search on a topic to get suggested links. When we find a fruitful link we can begin to read and to take notes. We’ll encounter hyperlinks. When a hyperlink is encountered we need to make a decision. Should it be ignored? If we ignore it, we still can return later. If we think it is potentially important, but not something to be pursued at the moment, we can bookmark it. Or, if we feel like we really need more information to continue, we can click on the link and drill down for more information.

Remember what was needed in pre-internet days? We have an article or a book. We read. We take notes. We identify holes in our knowledge and look for more references. All of this is time consuming, requiring going through card catalogs and other sources of additional information. Consider the time involved here and compare it with clicking on hyperlink. When a book is needed, it can be ordered from Amazon or some other online vendor.

In the lingo of the healthymemory blog, the internet is a superb example of transactive memory. Remember that there are two sources of transactive memory. One is technology, which can range from the internet to books and journals. The other source is our fellow human beings, We can and should use the internet to connect with fellow humans with knowledge and expertise in topics of interest.

For more healthymemory blog posts on this topic, enter “contemplative computing” into the this blog’s search block.

© Douglas Griffith and, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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