Keeping Up Can Make You Dumber

Creating Passionate Users: The myth of “keeping up”

Kathy Sierra, who blogs at Creating Passionate Users, has written a nice reminder of the dangers of the “myth of keeping up.” As Gardner points out in a recent comment, you know you’re engaged in an exercise in futility when your “books I have to get list” is longer than your open loops list:

I need to get that GTD book, but my “get that book” list is even longer than my open loop list … some days it really does feel like a never-ending downward spiral.

The first step (sound familiar) is to acknowledge that no one really keeps up:

So… it’s time to let that go. You’re not keeping up. I’m not keeping up. And neither is anyone else. At least not in everything. Sure, you’ll find the guy who is absolutely cutting-edge up to date on some technology, software upgrade, language beta, whatever. But when you start feeling inferior about it, just think to yourself, “Yeah, but I bet he thinks Weezer is still a cool new band…

There are some specific suggestions for beginning professionally responsible and still getting out from under pressures of feeling that you have to keep up with everything.

  • Find the best aggregators
  • Get summaries
  • Cut the redundancy!
  • Unsubscribe to as many things as possible
  • Recognize that gossip and celebrity entertainment are black holes, including Slashdot and the Guardian.
  • Pick the categories you want for a balanced perspective, and include some from outside your main field of interest
  • Find a real living breathing person who help you sort out what you need to know from what’s nice to know and what exists only on the edge cases.

The Creating Passionate Users bloggers are all authors of Head First books (, a “brain-friendly” set of programming books from O’Reilly. According to the web site, “they’re all passionate about the brain and metacognition, most especially–how the brain works and how to exploit it for better learning and memory.”

Inside Higher Ed: Duke’s Ever-Evolving iPod Initiative

Inside Higher Ed :: Duke’s Ever-Evolving iPod Initiative

Duke continues to expand its use of iPods in teaching with over 100 faculty developing materials for use in courses. (Faculty members using the devices in class get there’s free from the university). After making news by giving iPods to all incoming students a couple of years ago, Duke now loans them to students enrolled in classes that use them.

…any student in a course for which Duke has approved iPod use can borrow one of the devices free of charge for the term. And any student who wants to own instead can one for $99, about a third of the price of the audio/video iPod. Duke will keep refreshing the “loaner pool”

Duke is adding microphones to the loaner iPods to encourage students to become producers of audio content, as well as consumers. The initiative is part of a larger program called the Duke Digital Initiative.

Balancing Blogs With Getting Things Done

I spent some time at the end of last week at the Association of Collegiate Computing Services (ACCS) meeting in Charlottesville, where I gave the Thursday morning keynote and sat in on a few sessions including an excellent overview of the Sakai and iTunes University by James Hilton, soon-to-be CIO at UVA. (You can hear James Hilton talk about the podcasting experiment at Michigan in this podcast.)

Driving home, I really felt like a major league fraud. It’s hard to talk authentically about the energizing potential of Web 2.0 when you haven’t posted to your blog in a month.

Bed and  BreakfastAt the beginning of April, Janna and I headed out of town for a trip, and I realized that it was the first weekend in five that I had taken off, butI didn’t have a whole lot to show for it. I had put my off blogging, commenting on blogs and even reading blogs. That weekend I made an April Fools Day Resolution to put some concentrated effort into getting a handle on my workload.

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