Friday, February 25, 2005

Attention Deficit Disorder (Life post-Google)

Lately I have felt more restless than I have in the past few months. Not the kind of washed-out feeling I felt earlier, but the kind of I-need-to-move-on urge that takes away concentration from the current task.

A typical evening for me after getting home from work would be as follows: swimming, preparing dinner, eating dinner while surfing for news on the 'Net. Perhaps it's the hypertext nature of the Net that encourages wandering, but boy, wander I do!

There are always online technical articles I'd be reading first; but I never usually finish reading them before something else catches my attention. It's usually a piece of music playing on my XMMS whose lyrics I'd like to look up, followed by similar songs by the same artist. At this point I'd go back to the first article I read, and sometime later my thought would wander off, associating certain ideas in the articles with some people or some topic I have thought about in the past. And off I fired up Google to search that topic. (A good measure of how long a person's attention span lasts could be obtained if Google were to log individual users and their search terms and their exact timing of search.)

The Google search would then yield some more interesting articles to read, which I'd read halfway and bookmark for future reading. And then I'd go through my bookmarks to see which past articles I should read then... and on and on it went until my thought returned to the project I was working on at the office.

One day, in my wandering about the labyrinth of the Internet, I found a link to ADD studies, and took the mini Do-you-suffer-from-ADD test there. I swear I answered honestly, though at the back of my mind there's a little bell that rang in alarm when the questions asked describe my life in the past few weeks perfectly, and lo and behold, I scored 30 (out of God knows how many) when a score of 25+ would be enough indicator of ADD likelihood.

Oh shit. Relax, i told myself. That anxiety quickly went away, followed by a further wandering about the Internet until I doze off for the night. And for a while, I wish for the blissful pre-Google life, where an evening could be spent reading a book with no distraction at all.

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