Photography ... astronomy ... art ... design ... technology
(... and the odd rant)

All of these make my world go 'round, to some extent, and they will all be found here at some time or other. Some of the photography can be purchased from my Redbubble site. I can also be found at Tempus Fugit (no longer being updated).

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Dictionary Effect

One of the perils of life online is distraction. You want some information and go looking for it; you might or might not find what you want, but you will almost certainly find other things that you don't want either, but which are very tempting. You know how it goes: one query spawns five links worth looking at; each of those leads to five others, and so on. Within minutes, you can forget what you went in search of, and spend an obscene and distressing amount of time looking elsewhere at undeniably fascinating sites. Then, when you try to retrace your steps from the final page you dare look at, you will find it's next to impossible.

I always used to have this problem with dictionaries (still do), as they can be similarly engaging with serendipitous disovery. Dictionaries are safer though - each new link takes but seconds to read, and probably only leads you on a single trail, instead of an almost infinitely diverging set of possibilities.

xkcd expresses it thus...

Subtitle: "'Taft in a wet t-shirt contest' is the key image here."