Originally I’d intended to leave this as a comment on Darren’s great article about time-wasters that our online-life leads us into. Because it grew into a lengthy essay, I chose to publish it here for easy reading.

Daisy Chain

Darren has given us 16 activities that cause the most distraction. You’ll have to go read his original article to understand the response below, but you should get the gist of my thoughts on each of them:

  1. Totally agree. Twitter and particularly Plurk steal waaay too much time. I find the trick is to restrict yourself to particular people of similar interests, and of a language you actually understand. The problem is that people are after either friendship or amassing ‘Karma‘. I find it ‘calmer‘ to only chat with people who simply want to chat about life.
  2. Bookmarking to locations like Digg and Redditt bore me to tears. I use delicious because it allows me to insert JavaScript lists elsewhere.
  3. Online Networking has it’s purpose. Someone said this, and I like it: “Linked in Facebook for Adults”. Thus, it’s LinkedIn for me. The people I want to engage in conversation are LinkedIn.
  4. Everything else in this list is a distraction to Web Design and Photography!
  5. If you build it, they may come along and read it. SEO is the written word. Therefore it pays to write articles that attract readers. So rather than dwelling on whether the search engines are seeing you, make your words worth reading.
  6. True, yet Reading promotes thought. Thought breeds sentence and structure, which hopefully we write down before we forget!
  7. Learning How to Blog is an interesting art. I guess we all have to work that out at some point. My method: If you write from the heart, the rest will follow.
  8. Forget about Guest Posting until you have spare time. And who has spare time these days? Whilst I am writing this, I should be sleeping, or coding something.
  9. Interacting is similar to Reading. When we meet and greet with REAL people (plus the occasional online acquaintance), we learn about real and true communication. When you’ve mastered speaking in a crowd, and keeping them entranced, you’re worthy of the Jedi Council!
  10. Networking should be a by-product of your activities, not the activity itself. I agree with Darren, too much time is spent trying to find similar minds. Even I am guilty of that. Most recently I tried to enter a group of people whom I’ve since discovered live a far different lifestyle to me.
  11. Monetisation is near impossible if you don’t have the readership. Most online businesses want to know how many people are visiting, linking and commenting on your work BEFORE they even consider you as a viability.
  12. An online acquaintance has 36 blogs! Why would you start a third or fourth? I understand having a second at a different blog-provider (ie, Tumblr), but only for experimentation, not for essay-length articles.
  13. Traffic Schmaffic. Yeah, I’ve analysed my statistics, but only after discover a spike that double quadrupled any other article I’d written. The best thing to ask yourself when the spikes occur is “Why?” and “What did I do right that time?”
  14. Oh yeah, competitions, challenges, and multi-person projects are the time killers. As fun as they might be, don’t let them steal your sleep, kill your enthusiasm nor takeover your online life.
  15. Argumentative commentors are the worst yet the best type of people. The art is to learn how to turn their aggression around into something positive. Ask questions of these people, but never be derogatory back to them. Because then they win. And you swing over to the dark side of the force. We don’t need any more Darth Vaders!
  16. Worrying over copyright issues is the biggest worry of the internet. Like many others, I upload a myriad of photographs to a few sites … only to find they have been used for headers on blogs, as wallpapers for free somewhere else, or more amusingly printed at work by friends because they are too stingy to pay for a good quality image. Let bygones be gone, be thankful that the copy from the internet has a maximum of 72DPI therefore cannot be printed with any great quality.

Australian Flowers

Like Darren says, “there’s nothing wrong with any of these activities“, they’ve all got purpose – but they shouldn’t be your highest priority. If you must spend time social-networking, set aside specific time, plotted at a time when you are most awake and have no other pressing engagements. There’s nothing worse than the person who fails to turn up to a family function because their blog took priority!

In accordance with Darren’s actual question, I’d have to say that (1) and (5) are my main online activities. But it’d be truer to say that (1) distracts me from doing more of (5) and being with family and RL-friends.