The best and worst part about the internet is there is so much information being created every minute that no one person could possibly process everything. Lately I have been trying to consume all of the information.
The big advantage of modern computing is the ability to run multiple processess at once. There is research out there somewhere that says our brain cant do this. We can not multitask. Or maybe we can truly multitask… humans are interesting. Anyways, what we can do for sure is rapidly switch between different processes.
On the quest to consume more information faster, I have created multiple chanels, running in parallel that engage different senses. Heres the tools I use:
RSS feed: iPhone app that aggregates new content from my favorite web pages.
Email: for personal messages
reddit: the front page of the internet, specifically r/science and r/technology
The Social Radio: this app reads your twitter stream in near real time through text to speech.
Text to Speech: iPhone feature that makes a robot speak any written content
RjDj Dimensions: for augmented ambient sound
This is tricky to describe because there are so many things happening at the same time, so I will start with how it is set up.
First I turn on Social Radio. This is set up to constantly read my twitter stream in near-realtime. Then I turn on RJDJ dimensions which has ambient noise/music that is augmented with the iPhone audio input. This gives a surreal background noise that reflects my local environment. You get warped beeping of machines, train noises, occasional conversations or the conductor asking for passenger tickets. So that gives me a surreal environment with one stream of information in an audio format. At this point, I can pretty much process everything that is coming in.
Next I read through my email, and respond to one conversation that takes less mental power to respond now, rather than trying to remember to respond later. As I type on the touch screen, I can hear the patter of my fingers echoing through my devices microphone and the surreal audio landscape.
Next I read the front page of the internet: reddit. I quickly skim through a few articles and mentally note one. Did you know that the reason we dont have massive insects is because of birds?
Next I switch to RSS. My phone has aggregated all of the new content on a long list of websites that I monitor. There is always a lot of information here, and its impossible to read everything. I skim through the headlines looking for interesting content. Maybe 1 out of 10 articles attract a closer look. As new tweets are read through a tinny voice in the background of my brain, I read the first paragraph of an article. Apparently there were two companies that make spy satellites for the US gov’t, but the companies were going to merge and create a monopoly, but this didnt happen because of something money related.
Here is a cool key thing that can also hold on to your mail:
And XBOX made something called SmartGlass that aims to connect any device with an open API. This could be interesting so I star* it in RSS, highlight the text and have my phone convert the article into an very quick-paced mechanical voice. It took a while to get used to having a machine read to you faster than your eyes can read every word on the page, but it works well enough. This new voice in my head overrides the relitavely slow paced drone of the twitter stream and the ambient augmented music.
As the article about XBOX SmartGlass is read to me, I continue to scan through my RSS feed for the next thing that I want to mark as interesting and record in my signals database. I also hear the twitter stream being read, and the augmented ambient sound of RJDJ in the background.
As I am scanning through more RSS headlines a hear an interesting tweet from @ioerror about pictures of the earth from the iss. cool. I want to know more, so I got to the Social Radio app where which transmitted the bit of info from the internet to my brain. But there I cant find any feature that connects me to the tweet. What I do find is a feedback button where I ask Social Radio for this feature. One way broadcast of information is whats going on here, and that is over. Social implies the ability to respond or retweet, and Social Radio needs to enable that level of interaction.
I go through more of the RSS feed and send more content to the inbox. Hear quite a bit of chatter on twitter about how Click and Clack from Car Talk are retiring. Many good memories listening to that show as a kid. Star more articles, then through my headphones, mixed in with the ambient music I hear the caltrain operator say Palo Alto. This is my stop. I pocket my device, and get up. The ambient music is so much more interesting when there is action. You can hear bits of peoples conversations and the hum of the train. You hear the beep of people tagging off with their train passes. You can hear the phone swoosh against the fabric in your pocket, and hear it echo into the abyss of ambience while that tinny voice reads more content from the twitter sphere.
In this state, I can not possibly process all of the information that is being thrown at my brain. And Im not sure exactly what my brain filters, and what it holds on to. But it sure is a stimulating and enjoyable experience.
This is my morning newspaper and it requires coffee.
*when I star something in RSS, it is automagically sent through a custom IFTTT channel that stores the article to a special email folder. I can also send any article from, for example REDDIT to a proxy email account that forwards to this special signals database folder. Essentially this acts as a holding tank for anything interesting, so I can go through and curate the best stuff to the signals database tumblr blog that I mentioned earlier.