Saturday, March 14, 2009

On productive myopia and getting to the bottom of things

I find a lot to agree with in the following observation by John Darnielle:

In an abundance of information - in this glut which is if not a permanent reality then at least the one we expect to have with us for a few generations - the soundest strategy is focus. The future belongs to the myopic.

I was reminded of a comment by computer science professor Donald E. Knuth that I have admired for some time.

In the process of explaining why he became a happier man after giving up his email address on 1 January 1990 (after having used email for fifteen years...I note, only in passing, that this was about the time that I was receiving my first email address....), Knuth states:

Email is a wonderful thing for people whose role in life is to be on top of things. But not for me; my role is to be on the bottom of things. What I do takes long hours of studying and uninterruptible concentration.

I suppose we're not going to be seeing Dr. Knuth on Twitter any time soon.

4 comments:

The Wife said...

A few years ago, Harald Martenstein had something similar to say about his need to focus:

http://www.zeit.de/2004/31/Titel_2fMartenstein_31

mikeovswinton said...

I recall a female French academic asking me at a conference in 1995 (in the business session of the association that ran the thing) "What is this email they are all talking about? Is it a kind of fax?" My response was "yeah, I think so." In fairness to myself I did find out when I got home.

J. Carter Wood said...

That sounds, MoS, rather similar to by befuddlement about the word 'blog' in about, oh, 2003 or so.

J. Carter Wood said...

Obviously, I meant 'my befuddlement' rather than 'by befuddlement'.

As you can see, years later I'm still getting used to this blog thing.