Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Good enough or worse than not at all

I was reminded recently of an idea mentioned in an xkcd mouseover text: to keep yourself from being distracted by crap on the internet, put a 30-second delay before opening up a new webpage. I searched and someone had wroten a little script to do that.

I don't know if I screwed something up installing it or whatever, but the script appears to work erratically: sometimes correctly, sometimes showing a countdown on its icon but not obscuring the page, and sometimes having no effect at all.

The upshot being, the anti-distraction mechanism itself ends up replicating the "slot machine" sort of dynamic that makes things like web forums, Twitter feeds, and news sites so distracting in the first place. Being able to instantly check Reddit for new stories whenever you want is habit-forming, but only being able to do so 10% of the time is even worse!

Anyway, just found that amusing or whatever.