Sea of Distraction

I got the map from dailyinfographic.com via a scoop.it post to Facebook from Adelina Silva’s scoop.it page. I like fantasy maps and concept maps so this is great. Picturing networks of online communities as a world is entirely appropriate. The prominence of Facebook is not surprising.

Interestingly or ironically my chancing on this was through my following Adelina’s link to an article from eduweek.org which re-asks the old question as to whether new technology helps or hinders learning:

When the Internet burst onto the scene, some thought it would change education by allowing students to access information far beyond classrooms and school libraries. But this access came with a challenge—students were faced with hyperlinked text that sent them into distracting territory.

The problem of being distracted while learning is personally relevant. It’s what I do. Following one learning path I’m led down several others that are tangential to my original intention. This personal habit long pre-dates the advent of hyperlinks, going back to college days when I would browse through the library making connections that were more interesting that the reading necessary to get the essays answered quickly and effectively. This is a habit that I’ve taken into the rest of my life and that has been intensified by the Internet.

The Internet is both a sea of knowledge and a sea of distraction. It is possible to be lost for hours and days to no productive purpose. There are treasures found but also lots of dross and even the treasure will be too much to carry. What we need to practice is not so much the art of navigating to the objects of original purpose, but the art of limiting the time spent on journeys or side trips of serendipitous discovery.