The Web is becoming just another television


A few months ago, I managed to bookmark my 20.000th link. I always imagined I would be able to say something really inspiring when it would finally happen, but after years of collecting and tagging content on Delicious like mad, proud of the amount of information I've consumed, I ended up feeling a bit empty. Categorization schemes, mashups, systematic repeating of essays and articles, it seems nothing could help me grow anymore. What else can you expect from a passive observer of a world, overwhelmed with unlimited knowledge?

In February 2011, when I saved my 10.000th link, I felt great, full of power. This means I've made around 10 bookmarks per day on average since then, which translates into a lot of read material. But when I reflect on that, I can't bypass the feeling I haven't actually learned that much. Most online content seems recycled and without added value. The feeds I'm subscribed to are all the same, and I don't know how to break out of them. The amount of information out there is simply astounding, making me read everything diagonally. I feel like everybody is just trying to control my attention.

Then I noticed the (social) Web is becoming like television. We are all just drones, consuming unimportant information we are being fed on a daily basis. Passive readers actively choosing sources that lead us to the facts - but how is that different from choosing which television channels to watch? Not only that, we've become advocates of this situation by passing on "interesting stuff" on our timelines, a part of the infinite loop of content creation, curation and consumption.


Almost half a year ago, when I wrote these words, I became so depressed I've decided not to publish them. Luckily, I've had enough time to think about the problem and came up with a plan to turn myself around. I decided I need to do everything I can to become a proactive consumer of information (again). Forget social, I'm returning back to search. Web 1.0 FTW!

Together with more in-depth studies of specific topics that I do these days, I managed to achieve something even more important. I started reading books, I've read about five in the past few months. Fiction and scientific. You won't believe the effect this has had on my concentration and habits. I noticed I don't spend that much time on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit anymore, becoming the master of my information intake. By taking time to read / watch more complex work, everyday news finally started to show itself as trivial as it really is.

What we have here now, is just another television, which we passively consume for amusement, without much mental effort. But to evolve personally and professionally (what the Web was invented for!), we'll need to do more. Read books, listen to podcasts, study specific fields, concentrate on individual subjects. Because it's that focus that is crucial for one's evolution. Nobody wants generalists anymore. And believe me, 20.000 "random" articles don't make you that smart anyways.

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written 11.2.2014 16:06 CET on chronolog
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