Content Consumption Versus Production

My present consumption versus production ratio is not well balanced, I consume ridiculously more media and content than what I produce.(1) So! I am changing that :)

I think content consumption is a necessary part of life and can be quite healthy and good for someone...but! If the ratio is off and/or one is consuming certain kinds of content especially via certain mediums, and one is also trying to get stronger, improve, "level up" then cultivating a prudent media diet is necessary. I want to improve and have something to protect plus pursue, so that's why I'm doing this stuff.

Producing content helps me voice my voice, get stronger, practise deliberate action, and thrive in alive time. Additionally, the more deep work I engage in, the happier and more highly functioning I become. Book recommendation: after reading Cal Newport's "Deep Work", I read OP A.G. Sertillanges' "The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods" and that provided yet more insight into the benefits of deep work plus further increased my desire to do that and is an excellent guide to doing independent, novel, intellectual, and creative work. I highly endorse this book and will be re-reading it very soon. It's likely better and more timeless than Newport's "Deep Work", in my opinion.

Sources of Inspiration

I looked to these posts as examples and guides for building my media diet rules.

Media Diet and Habits

  1. I reserve 8 hours of each weekday for productive, creative, deliberate, etc. work.

    • 4-6 hours of each weekday's reserved 8 hours is for deep work and/or strictly necessary must-get-done-now work. The other 2-4 hours is used for less focus-required, less deliberate but still productive work.

    • No internet access, social activity, or otherwise potentially distracting things are permitted during this time except for what is strictly necessary to support the work I'm focusing on at that moment.

    • If I absolutely can't focus on anything, or need relief I may play the piano, write, draw, exercise, or meditate for some reasonable amount of time before returning to work.

  2. No Hacker News or other interesting news aggregators, social media sites, news sites, videos, TV, movies, YouTube, etc. permitted except on Saturdays and Sundays.

  3. I can be as social as I want outside of the 8 hours I reserve each weekday for working.

  4. I can watch one episode of Star Trek per weekday.

  5. I can play one hour of video games per weekday.

  6. Anything is allowed if I'm doing it socially outside of my weekday reserved 8 hours.

  7. I reserve 4 hours of each weekendday for productive, creative, deliberate, etc. work but otherwise impose no restrictions on weekends.

  8. When with friends or if situations prudently require it, I may make necessary on-the-spot temporary exceptions to any of the rules. Life is change, one must know how to prudently adjust as necessary.

  9. I must resume writing daily shortform posts, weekly reviews, and so on to better structure and document this initiative, plus such things help my life more broadly.

  10. I commit myself to this diet and habit change for 3 months. I will reevaluate this initiative on 17 October 2021 and decide whether to continue with it and if so in what ways (and make any necessary changes).

My oath of reply for this post lasts until 17 October 2021.

Be well!

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2 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 5:37 AM

I recently tried to change some of my habits, and the greatest success was to stop reading Hacker News (and Reddit). Hacker News has this ironic impact on my life, that it gives me pointers to many interesting and potentially useful things, but also consumes all free time I would need to actually use and of those things.

Generally, seems that any system that pushes information to you is harmful. The right way to use resources is on-demand. (With very few exceptions; like if there is another pandemic coming, I want to know.)

The question is how to improve accessing the information on-demand. How to make "intelligent" queries that would not only give me "N latest articles" or "N most upvoted articles" or "N articles containing given keyword", but some proper combination of "approved by crowd + relevant to my interests", with a bit of exploration (if something is exceptionally strongly approved by the crowd, and not on my blacklist, show it to me, too).

Switching from consuming Hacker News during the week to exclusively during the weekend has helped me a lot, I now spend substantially less time there and even when I do check it on the weekend, I still somehow keep it reasonably short and it doesn't take too much time out of my day, plus the urge to check it very often has waned. Once a week seems to be a nice novelty hit and exploration time for consuming Hacker News, so I'll keep to this restriction on it since it lets me use it better as a tool for finding new and interesting things without that tool causing negative impacts on my life.

I find that knowledge of historical enough significance will be pushed in my direction (e.g. the pandemic) without me seeking it out or reading the news or signing up for newsletter updates, and that's good enough for me regarding staying informed unless I am specifically following some particular thing closely. But yes, I agree that push systems probably have a net negative impact on individuals and instead of being useful tools to get information from, aren't. The only exception I think would be push notifications from messaging apps when dealing with time sensitive things e.g. meeting up with a friend and figuring out where to go, meeting a deliveryperson outside to sign for a package, emergency work meeting or issue, etc. On demand is a much better use of resources, because then you can be deliberate about using such tools that allow for accessing whatever resources you want to access. Taking deliberate action is better than not, usually.

Regarding your last paragraph, I think you may find Gwern's Internet Search Tips helpful. I suspect search like you want is still a bit of a hard problem which is why (to choose one example in particular) Google makes so much money from advertising and search. Prediction markets for the efficacy of information provided by X sources could be interesting though.