Saturday, May 06, 2006

Catching Up

Greg Knauss's bit of writing, "The Backlogged Life," popped up this week on a number of blogs I read. I find myself in good company with those many of us who can identify with the feeling of being overwhelmed and the need to do something about it. Greg writes:

My entire life has devolved into an endless, grinding slog through my back-log. Everything I do is about catching up, doing the stuff I didn't get done the day before ... There are times when it piles up faster than I can shovel it away.

And the computers are at fault, of course. Always the computers.

The tools I use to manage information have evolved to the point where I can abdicate the tedious process of gathering it all together to them, and they now do a very diligent job of making sure that it's all brought to my attention. Endlessly. Maddeningly.

Years ago, someone phoned you and you weren't home, you missed the call and they had to try back -- now, the messages queue up in voice-mail ... The Web originally required me to actually go out and do something as quaint as visit sites to read them -- these days, my feed reader pulls down megabytes of data -- a large portion of it, of course, cat pictures -- and piles it up, forever. Each of these swollen reservoirs of data silently mocks me with my inadequacy.

And ... It's all hard stuff, too, the sedimentary layers at the bottom of my various in-boxes. One e-mail message can imply a month of work. One feed item can be hours of reading. A single voice-mail can be days of back-and-forth.

Greg's solution is to put the "Entirety of Human Knowledge" on notice:

If I haven't gotten to something in a week, it dies. Stick that in your attention economy and smoke it. I'm re-booting. Feed list: empty. In-box: empty. TiVo: OK, OK, I still need to watch "24." But other than that: empty.

So screw you, info-glut! I'm not going to be the responsible info-citizen I'm expected to info-be anymore. If I get to it, I get to it. If I don't, well, then it couldn't have been very important in the first place ... You're on notice, Entirety of Human Knowledge. You get a week. If you can't get my attention in that time -- and it's plenty of time -- then you're tossed, junked, thrown away and forgotten.

Call me back if its important.

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