Photo by RadialMonster

Found an article(1) over at Read/Write Web that really hits spot-on to the persistent state of my overwhelmedness of late. There are so many great sites that crop up everyday and it is long gone become unruly to try them all. Under the heading “Drowning in Awesomeness,” Sarah Perez makes the best point for all of us webbish early adopters:

“The double-edged sword that comes with keeping abreast of all the latest developments in technology means that we’re always aware of the latest and greatest applications and services to try…but it also means that we’ve tried all of them. Unlike the average user, who doesn’t even bother creating a Facebook profile until several of their friends cajole them into doing so, technology early adopters are the first to sign up and create profiles on every service that launches.

“…However, sometimes they’re not so great after all, and they end up fading away into nothingness in that area we’ve affectionately dubbed the ‘deadpool.’

“These failures don’t seem to dampen our enthusiasm for trying the ‘next big thing,’ though…

Deadpool? You mean to say that some of these sites in which we invest our time to “test” for these folks may be a waste? Yep. Louis Gray mentions this with a dozen sites he tried. Now he finds about half of them either failing or looking like they’re about to(2). The fact that it doesn’t slow us down may not necessarily be a good thing, though.

Another good point she makes:

“…We’re supposed to live, breathe, eat, sleep, and dream this stuff. The problem is, while we’re busy experimenting with this new thing and that new thing, we might miss out on actually enjoying the services that are already there for us, working just fine, thank you very much.

Now, what I find ironic with her post is that after pointing out a clear issue of our attention being robbed in the beginning of her article, from the middle to the end she name-drops a dozen or so popular beta sites titillating in all their glory with links we could follow. In fact, someone in the comments area mentioned they enjoyed the article, but then stated–perhaps somewhat cheekily–they now had 15 new tabs open waiting for them. That can’t be good for them.

All this info-waste concerns me on few fronts, but one, for the individuals who are drowning in it all and secondly, for the overall implications on societal productivity. Can our economy really sustain all these distractions?

Aggregation is the Answer?

So, almost with a tone of exasperation, Ms. Perez asks “What Can We Do?” I partially agree with her predicted solution. I believe 2008 is the “year of aggregation.” And don’t get me wrong, as an experience designer, I know some of us have to stay on top of all the latest apps and innovations (as an aside, I’m not seeing much in the way innovation), but even with all the promise of “tying it all together” the problems will not be solved by aggregation alone.

We may be at a point where we need to wait it out some; stop running around looking at all the latest apps and get productivity. There are many (I’m reviewing at least a half-dozen myself) projects that are promising to tie all my social sites together, but the reality is, it may be a good time to take a holding pattern until I see the whuffie(2) value. And to see the potential for whuffie dividends.

Over-Consumption of Media Makes Our Heads Fat with Rich Information, But Our Economy Thin on Vital Productivity

The bigger question that needs answering is: what is going to make me stick at one place and stop me from looking around at all the others? What is it going to keep me investing at one site so I can move on to investing in my clients/employer? Better still, how is a *social* app going to help me stay focused to further invest in my clients/employers?

I don’t need the newest little API-hookin’ app and I definitely don’t need YA GTD app promising to save me from myself with oodles of flexible organization tools. I like nice, usable, pretty interfaces and useful mash-ups, but if they do little for me to easily share traffic with my friends so we can truly “Do Things,” I find little usefulness let alone desirousness.

Again, can our weathered economy really sustain all these distractions? It might be the right time to just stop signing up for beta invites and let the shake out begin; let a bunch of little bubbles (developer’s and “serial entrepreneur” egos) burst before the bigger bubble (our economy) bursts. Anybody else feeling this?


  1. Too Many Choices, Too Much Content
  2. Where Are They Now? A Look at A Dozen Services That Debuted Here
  3. Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

(Via Read/WriteWeb.)

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • sarahintampa says:

    I really enjoyed reading your thoughts and insights about my article. Thanks so much for sharing and adding to the conversation.

    Nice blog, btw – subscribed!

  • chrispalle says:

    Sure thing, Sarah. You have some really good insight. After re-reading something occurred to me, perhaps the biggest question is: Is it possible to make this all open so it really doesn't matter where your attention is spent? The answer we know is “yes,” but it will take some letting go. Transparency will be key. We can't hold on too every little bit that go about.

    Thanks for the subscribe. Look forward to more reads from ya!