Tag Archives: e-literacy

Mindful or mindfull social media?

Mind map with ways to minimise distractions when online

What happens when you see that little red marker pop up? A new message? A new friend or like? A new tweet?

It is ever so tempting to stop what you’re in the middle of to check. Straight-away, because it’s so important, right?

Checking an alert all too often leads to checking something else, which leads to time disappearing down a black hole. I know because I’ve been down that vortex.

This shouldn’t be a surprise. Using computers and respond to the 24/7/365 stream from social media is something new to all of us. This implies learning some new tricks.

Of course, some people blithely ignore the seductions of constantly checking messages or following up on just one more link. But many of us aren’t so good at this.

At the workshops with Beth Kanter in Auckland recently, we touched on attention and information coping skills.

Everyone laughed when Beth reported that according to one study 39% of people check their phones for updates and new emails in the bathroom. The urge to stay connected obviously comes from a very deep place within.

Talking over Jane Genovese’s mindmap on “How to focus in the age of distraction” (pictured above) at one of the workshops was useful. Even thought I’ve looked at this before, I still found some tips to hone my practices.

Beth collects and shares useful articles on Mindful social media and Information coping skills. There isn’t a single approach that will work for everyone.

I admit I haven’t read all of Howard Rheingold’s book “Net Smart: how to thrive online”, but I am selectively grabbing tips. If I tried to sum up his advice in a single word I’d say it’s breathe!

A glimpse of Howard’s infotention advice can be found freely online – the 15 minute mini-lecture offers a few hints, plus there are articles and links if you want to read more.

Being Zen-like is a topic Oliver Burkeman’s delves into in a recent article on ‘conscious computing’. Setting aside the esoteric rationale, I’ve actually tried a couple of software programmes listed that help focus attention.

Ommwriter offers a 100% blank screen to write on, and Flux dims the screen brightness in sync with the actual time of day.

I don’t sense there is a magic wand that will instantly vanquish distraction. It’s something I sense will take more practice yet (as I return to writing this post after checking a red pop-up signalling incoming mail).

What are your strategis for staying focused and surfing on the sea of incoming information?

Tidying up my info flow

Slipping into cosy routines and ways of being, only to have things shaken up seems to be an immutable law of nature.

Disruption can come in many forms: fire, flood, computer failure, moving house, bankruptcy or even doing an online course.

Having been a co-learner on Howard Rheingold’s Think Know Tools online course, it’s the latter cause of disruption that’s been exercising my mind.

The course dives into both the theoretical-historical background of intellect augmentation and some practical skills for personal knowledge management.

It’s been a demanding and invigorating experience. The diverse and intelligent co-learners from all over the globe have generously shared insights, knowledge and encouragement. I even awoke at 5am a couple of times to join everyone ‘in-person’ at a ‘class’.

People have been prolific. Over 1300 discussion board comments, dozens of blog posts, multiple mind maps, 155 bookmarks with annotations. All this, and more, in just six weeks.

It’s been impossible to keep up. Indeed our co-learner in chief cautioned at the beginning it’s perilous to try. Yet Howard popped up everywhere: guiding, chivvying, encouraging, enthusing, connecting, sharing know-how, and more besides.

Normally, the way I learn about things I’m interested in and keep tabs on topics I’m working on, can be a bit scattered. It not only looks messy, it is messy. Imagine piles of books, photocopied articles, clippings, print-outs, sorted using three or four different labeling systems. Mostly it works, but there is always room for improvement.

A six-week course isn’t going to change this. Much as I hanker for a neat and tidy era of information harvesting and retrieval, I know I’ll continue to evolve my practices in an organic way. Seeing what others are doing and understanding why, has been very valuable.

I’m besotted with the features of Diigo social bookmarking – sticky notes, highlighting within the text can add to shared understanding. I’m equally besotted with using a variety of visual thinking techniques. Just take a look at a sketchnotes on social bookmarking by Amanda Lyons to get an idea of how drawing can capture a tonne of meaning.

Don’t worry – I won’t be making any rash changes to my personal knowledge management techniques. I am inspired to keep exploring and refining. Ideally in a more intentional way. A starting point for this is naming the various steps in the process and practicing drawing. I’ve included my first attempt at this below.

Perhaps most importantly, I’ll finding ways to learn with others. Not only this a good way to make things sticks, it’s a helluva lot of fun too.

Mind map / drawing on finding, sorting, reading and sharing useful information by Stephen Blyth

Get a taste of what the Think Know course covers

Mind Amplifiers: Can Our Digital Tools Make Us Smarter? by Howard Rheinbod, September 2012. Cheap ebook only.

Think Know course schedule