Friday, June 23, 2017

Is Your Time Really Well Spent?

If you're anything like me, you think somewhat despairingly of people who spend a lot of time, say more than 1 hour a day, on Facebook. You could speak of how this doesn't make them happy in the long run, and how they are the victims of algorithms perfectly tuned to feed them what they are attracted to.

But aren't you, if you're spending also north of 1 hour a day reading articles or listening to podcasts doing something very similar? Unlike Facebook, behind articles and podcasts there typically isn't a master algorithm as finely tuned to fit your preferences as Facebook's algorithm is said to be. However, the publications that “survive,”  both in term of being popular enough to still be around, and being the ones you keep reading and listening to, are often exquisitely tuned to your likings. So, effectively, the end result is the same.

And it might even be worse for you if, like me, you enjoy, say, spending an hour listening to an interview of Condoleezza Rice at the Stanford Hoover Institute, because it isn’t obvious that this isn’t time well spent. At least, not as obvious as if you had spent that time watching funny cat videos and reading comments on Imgur.

So, think about it: is your time well spent?