Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Skip it

Seth Grodin just blogged about skipping to the good parts:

You can watch "the good parts" of a baseball game in about six minutes. The web has become a giant highlights reel... the best parts of SNL, the best parts of a speech, the best parts of a book . . .
As consumers of information, though, I wonder if the best parts are really the best parts. Yes, you can read a summary of a book instead of a book, or watch the trailer instead of the movie, or read the executive summary of the consultant's report instead of the whole thing... but the parts you miss are there for a reason.

Real change is rarely caused by the good parts. Real change and impact and joy come from the foundation and the transitions and the little messages that sneak in when you least expect them. The highlights of the baseball game are highlights largely because the rest of the game got you ready for them.

I hear what he's saying, but I'm not sure I agree.  We have gotten really good at skimming for a reason.  There is just too much information out there for us to meaningfully interact with all of it.  How can we know what is the good stuff without skipping to the good parts?  

He uses SNL as an example, I've tried watching it recently and it sucks, a lot.  I just don't have the 1.5 hours a week to kill waiting for the potential of one or two good sketches (a season).

I feel the same way about many books and websites, I just can't spend the time to read every word.  Words are too cheap.  You're skimming this right now.

Seth is right, we do miss something when we don't absorb the experience.  There is less drama to a sporting event, less impact to a sermon, less transformation from a book.  But there is more.  I can deal with more information if I refine my skimming skills.  The trade is depth for breadth.

I think that there are times when our hyper-refinded skimming skills need to be put on the shelf.  Seth speaks an appropriate word of caution to those of us who may be skimming through our world at ever increasing speed.

Take a deep breath.

Slow down.

Pick something that is really good (because you skimmed it and you know) and dig deep.



Tim said...

At first I thought you were saying what you wanted for your birthday, but with the picture and the text, it didn't really make sense. I was going to read it, but it was too long, so I skimmed it. I still don't get it.

tabitha jane said...

i just sort of skimmed this blog before i realized what it was about.


rich jandt said...

I have a problem with the word "skimmed". Since it is my job to look after and maintian a public pool I loath the concept of a skimmer.
Sorta like the word moist to some.