Quotes Science Tech

Gertrude Stein: ‘Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.’

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“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.”

Gertrude Stein, “Reflection on the Atomic Bomb” (1946)

Productivity & Work Psychology Tech Writing

Why we pursue distraction

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via giphy

We pursue distraction because we don’t know what else to do with our time.

Social networking and TV (whichever boredom solution we prefer) is a gateway to instant happiness. Screen time leads to dopamine release and impedes our impulse control.

How to increase our focus

Focus means ignoring all the noise that makes your brain fat. It means turning off all push notifications on your phone. It means sitting down and slowing down with a blank paper or blank screen and sorting shit out from scratch.

“Every other Friday, I take a tech break by spending the day outlining ideas for new articles on regular old sheets of paper.” 

Gregory Ciotti

It’s impossible to see forward when our eyes gravitate to the nearest touch-screen. There’s even a black box on the treadmill. That rectangular glow will do anything to conquer our eyeballs. Enough already!

Here’s a good rule of thumb to remain productive and sane in the age of distraction: try to produce as much as we consume.  

Kids are tweeting and texting these days which means they’re writing more than ever, but is their prose any good? Quality comes from concerted effort and deliberate practice.

And that means making concerted efforts to break away the tyranny of screens.

Arts Productivity & Work

The Art of Presentations

Keep it simple, top-line. No one wants to see all the details. They’d rather look at a few bullets or charts, hear you speak, and write down what they deem necessary.

Showing your work becomes more about what you omit than what you say, including the simplification of the rarely read appendix, so it too reflects your key findings in a digestible format.

Presentations are small products, stories, and art forms, just as is this blog post. They try to streamline complexity while also stirring curiosity and exciting action. The best presentations often leave more questions than answers.


The Older Mind May Just Be a Fuller Mind

For the time being, this new digital-era challenge to “cognitive decline” can serve as a ready-made explanation for blank moments, whether senior or otherwise.

It’s not that you’re slow. It’s that you know so much.

You might not be as forgetful as you think, just over-informed. How about another RSS feed?


Information overload? Visual content is the answer

According to Nielsen, 27 million pieces of content are shared each day. And Statistic Brain says that our average attention span has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds—one second less than a goldfish!

We check our phones 150 times per day. We check our email 30 times an hour. And the amount of information in the world continues to double every 18 months.

Some of these stats sound exaggerated but point taken. How much is too much?

We need more filters.


Try to absorb what is useful, discard what is useless, and add what is essentially your own.

— Bruce Lee
Productivity & Work Psychology Tech

Stormy brains


We devour information. We over-prepare our day by scrutinizing the weather. We try to control the future as much as we can.

Never in the history of the world have people been so informed. Cluttered minds gather data but use very little. Neurons stop connecting when they have limited room to breathe.

Subscribe to everything and subscribe to nothing. We are better thinkers with less, not more.


We are servants of an informed society. We always have been.

Jeff Jarvis on Journalism

To which David Carr adds

In a refracted media world where information comes from everywhere, the line between two “isms” — journalism and activism — is becoming difficult to discern.

However you define journalism, it’s clearly reemerging bottom up from blogger activists to amateur photographers.  



Digital information is hyper-abundant. We all need a way to filter out the irrelevant and subscribe only the content that appeals to us.

The genius of Twitter and RSS feeds is that we choose from the people and sources we want to hear from. Information suck is a big deal; hence why millions of people are searching for a viable alternative to Google Reader

People want to remain informed. It’s what Seth Godin refers to as permission marketing, except social media is a faster version of email as a way to receive mass marketing messages.

Filtering information is just like filtering coffee. Coffee isn’t potable until you first grind the beans and then filter out the ground beans with hot water. We can only consume that which is usable.

Reading is a personal experience. I can’t imagine picking up a newspaper today just to find the two or three interesting articles; not to mention having to wash my hands after all that print.

The news that’s fit to print today is one that’s all digital and highly filterable.