The timewaster

The curse of the Internet and the short attention span — there’s too much stuff to look at.

So I check my email.

Then I have a look in Google Reader.

What’s Twitter doing? Okay.

Facebook? My turn in Scrabble yet?

Might check a couple of the news sites and see what’s happening.

And the Whirlpool forum?

OK, all under control. But hey, I wonder if there’s any new email?

Rinse and repeat. How do I break this cycle?

I once had an idea for it: a combined mega-reader/aggregator that would grab data from all those sources and more, configured by the user. It would rank everything according to a priority — again, configured by the user — perhaps the emails from your boss and/or spouse at the top, the dull email newsletter which you should read but don’t want to at the bottom, and news bulletins somewhere in the middle.

So you could see everything in one hit, all prioritised.

I even came up with a name and a domain name for it: View My World.

And I did some rough designs on it, but never got to the coding stage.

I still think it’s a good idea, and anybody who’s got the time and inclination to work on it should give me a shout, maybe we can come up with a collaboration.

Meanwhile, amusingly, is now registered by Microsoft, and appears to be a recruitment web site.

(Anybody who wants to develop the Screaming Room idea should also give me a scream shout. I already have a prospective subscriber in Derrimut.)

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

9 replies on “The timewaster”

So, basically an RSS aggegator/reader with the ability to also access e-mails, newsgroups, and other user-defined sources.

Probably best written in php/mysql, if such a project doesn’t already exist on sourceforge.


I like the notion, although I have a more drastic solution in mind for my own Internet time suckage – I’m going to cut it off at the knees by selectively deleting the worst of the timewasters (Twitter screams out here, among others). It might be hard to do but I think long-term it’d be harder not to do.

I suppose a few of things can currently be done from Gmail with something like Google Buzz, haven’t tried it yet myself but it sounded interesting. However there certainly could be demand for an app that does all that from one window.

It sure is a problem checking all those interesting sites a couple of times a day. Stops a lot of real work being done, no doubt about it.

Not sure that having an aggregator is actually going to help though. It might work for some people but for me it would just be another huge pile of crap which needs to be managed.

That’s scary Daniel. You just described large parts of my day. Are we twins?

I think there are already some sites that do this sort of stuff. But if you can see everything all at once, what are you going to do the rest of the time? ;)

Yes I tell you the internet has served us procrastinators well. The trick is, not to go back and check over and over. Better to allocate checks 3 times a day or some such thing.

I used to have the same problems at work with email where I would try to respond to them as they arrived. Much better to allocate blocks of time where you tack email, and ignore it for the rest.

Thank goodness for google reader though. That’s cut a lot of time wastage (oh apart from the new blogs I keep adding…I’m really bad at letting go of blogs too…even if they’ve started to bore me)

PS: Not yours.

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