Declaring attention bankruptcy

Something changed in me early this year.

I don’t think it’s related to my going to Thailand for a holiday, but it might be something to do with my lack of doing anything for a terribly long period of time around Christmas and well, well, into the New Year.

I’d like to say something grew in me, like a desire to simplify and quieten my mind. Spend less time absorbing others’ information and start creating my own. That might be an overly romantic take, however.

I left Twitter, basically stopped using it. I don’t exactly like this state of affairs, because there is worth to the service; it’s just that I started being overwhelmed by too many people. So trimming down, but not just yet. Still avoiding it, for now, for the most part.

I’ve stopped reading whatever the hell I was reading every day. Once I started unsubscribing from a few RSS feeds, I couldn’t stop — the whole stack collapsed and I’ve decimated (well, bit-shifted left twice would be more accurate, I suppose) the number of sites I’m following. Which has decreased even more the number of “New Items” appearing in NetNewsWire every day, since I’m now only really paying attention to “low frequency, high quality” writing. The effect on my reading habits has been profound; I’m not really linking things on del.icio.us at the moment. People would ask me how I’d find such random/interesting articles all the time. Well, spending a lot of time reading is how.

Instead, I’ve been working on the LaTeX3 Project for the most part. Writing test suites and discussing improvements to the syntax and plans for the future. It’s been really satisfying to actually get some stuff done, even if I recognise that my obsession with “collecting information” (in the guise of reading a lot every day) has been replaced by “I wonder what I can do next on the expl3 code”.

I’ve accepted long ago that my mind latches onto ideas with a terrible grip and it’s inevitable that something that I’m currently spending time on will overwhelm my concentration, to the detriment of all other tasks and thoughts.

And this LaTeX3 work has all been a major distraction from my “real task” — I’ve got a thesis lingering over my head. Tomorrow I discuss with the academics what I’m to do about that, and I anticipate a great deal of soul-crushing acceptance on what there is left to do, how much work it will be, and how long it will take. Soul-crushing, because I should already know this but refuse to admit to the answers.

But sometime soon, the focus of my attention will finally shift back to this weighty document. And damn won’t it be nice to have the monkey off my back.