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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

How the Internet is affecting my attention span and how I’m planning on fixing it

March 24, 2011

We’ve all heard it before – and at this point I’m sure we’ve all experienced it – the Internet is having a profound effect on my attention span. From the first days of hypertext to the era of Twitter the messaging of the net is getting shorter and shorter while at the same time increasing in number. I find it very hard to swim up river so I suppose my attention span is simply changing with the times.

A few years ago I made it a goal to read a book a month for a year. I did OK. I didn’t reach my goal but I found time to read a fair number of books and had a great time doing it.

But now I’m finding it hard to get through a single book, or even a few chapters of a book. I find it especially hard to read long form on the iPad. With a flick of my fingers I can check Twitter, Facebook, my email, CNN.

Most books have rough parts. Parts that drag, lull, or seem to slow way down. You expect it. And when I came to these parts in past I would simply power through them. But now, if I find even a few sentences in a row that do not keep my attention I feel like I should move on, close the book, and read something else.

OK. We get it. We are probably all suffering from this trend. So how am I going to conquer it? Simple; practice. I’m going to retrain my attention span. I’m going to sit down with something – a book, a project, maybe even some time for meditation – and spend 30 minutes with it. Then, I’ll progress from there.

For whatever reason this hasn’t really affected my work or my personal research projects. I’m guessing that deadlines have something to do with that.

I’ll report back on my progress.