At the risk of losing the small number of readers I have managed to attract to this blog, I wanted to share a great piece from Lifehacker, “How to Boost Your Reading Comprehension by Reading Smarter and More Conscientiously.” The piece recommends winnowing your information sources down to a few select ones while maintaining a diversity of opinion on topics about which you are passionate. The hypothesis is that with fewer sources on which to concentrate, your level of engagement with what you are reading will increase.
I find myself feverishly plowing through my Google Reader RSS feeds using Reeder or Gruml, checking Flipboard, News360, and SkyGrid, logging into newsmap.jp, catching up on Chicago news at the Chicago News Cooperative, and touching base with the Tribune, Sun-Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, while squeezing in a frantic leafing through the Economist on a weekly basis. Add to those the email alerts I receive from Good Magazine, Politico, PEN, Education Week, and the Chronicle, and I have to admit feeling overwhelmed, over-read, and under-comprehended.
The Lifehacker piece gave new meaning to the term “information junkie.” The frantic iPhone thumb-flips in pursuit of that discrete bit of information that will provide me with divine insight has become an activity by itself, with the quality of the information or my comprehension of the issues surrounding it superficial. I am not sure if I can commit to giving up sources, but I realize that without doing so, I may be giving up true understanding. If I can make the commitment, at least my thumb may thank me.