For the past 12 hours I’ve had friendfeed running, along with another secret tool that’s coming in May that shows me news updating in real time, and another screen is running Tweetdeck here.
This is powerful stuff, I can talk with the world and see reactions coming in live. We’ve turned the Web from something that took weeks to discover new sites to a big chat room that pushes items at you in crazy fast manner and moves them down the screen.
More and more geeks are complaining to me that they can no longer keep up with Facebook, Twitter, friendfeed, and all the other things.
Linda Stone defined this problem as continuous partial attention.
I think it’s worse than that. Continuous partial inattention. I dare you to open up the new friendfeed in a window next to your work, point it at the aggregation of all the people I’m following, and try to get any work done.
Now, some of you are saying “well, unfollow.” But there’s something interesting for me in seeing all sorts of little conversations that hundreds or thousands of people are having.
The thing is I +can’t+ unfollow. Why not? You might say I’m addicted. Better people than me already have.
But there’s no going back for me. I will not give up this new world.
That means that we need new skills to deal with this new world.
One new skill? We now will share filters. I shared one with you in another post. Yesterday there was a big earthquake in Italy. Here’s a filter to help you find all the news about it. You can write me filters that will bring other things to my attention that I might miss in the stream of noise.
Other skills? We’ll need to build new news aggregation sites, like the “trending” feature on Twitter Search or Techmeme that will find the news “needles” in the stack of noise “hay.”
But right now we’re entering a period of transition. One where some of us will not be able to cope. Or we’ll be sucked in so deeply that we suffer career or family consequences. I’m struggling with the balance here myself.
I don’t know the answers here, other than to know that this new world does have its problems.