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JANUARY 31, 2008    

Living online

Web Association meeting notesToday's meeting of the Web Association was both interesting and worrisome. The State of the Web discussion touched on local search (an interesting alternative to Google and the like), online and offline marketing, and something called Micromedia. This last topic gave me the most to think about, and not all of it is good.

My notes shown here give you a few highlights of the presentation by Matt Dickman. You can also see/hear his presentation posted on his blog.

Important aspects of micromedia:

In other words, we're moving into a world of constant, short messages that follow us everywhere via text messages, IM, mobile phone and the Web. Our information environment is heating up.

I thought I'd try to get a broader perspective, so I googled "micromedia" and found this slide show: Micromedia: A Global Digital Climate Change.

One idea in the slide show that jumped out at me is something I worry about: we're spending more and more of our lives in a state of continuous partial attention. We walk and talk on the phone. Drive and eat. Type and listen to music. Our attention is fragmented rather than focused.

The poster child for this phenomenon is Twitter, a Web-based service that encourages you to stay hyper-connected to friends and associates by constantly sending short (140 characters or less) messages that answer the question: "What are you doing?"

To be honest about it, I've avoided signing up for Twitter because I'm afraid I'd become addicted. It sounds like the crack cocaine of web communication. I already check my email dozens of times a day, I don't want to give more of my life over to staying in touch with people—remotely.

I'd rather try to learn to pay more attention to the here and now, to enjoy the warmth of the sun on a cold day like today, to slow down enough to taste my lunch and sip my coffee, and spend time with those I care about. I'm not saying I'll never give in to the temptation to be hyper-connected. I'm just saying it may be the wrong choice to make.

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