686: Consuming Content in 2023

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The Hallmark Channel isn’t “junk food,” it’s “comfort food.” (It is perhaps not unlike, say, the Star Wars franchise in that regard …)

I’m not its target audience, but my mother was: it brought her a lot of pleasure during the last months of her life and I would have taken out a second mortgage to make sure it was in her cable line-up.


David backed off “junk food” as soon as he said it, IIRC.

Thanks for including that social discussion. Not feel-good, but pretty important. The good thing is your existing habits and creative output will help you act intentionally once you decide the right amount of attention per week.

Scripting a popup grid of browser windows is the easiest/fastest way I’ve found to keep up with multiple channels/communities within fixed time slots, assuming you won’t hit the macro too many times a day.

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He seemed to have a hard time coming up with a ready alternative, so I thought I’d offer one. :wink:


Fair. And I do appreciate your story. I also had a close family member who passed, who found certain TV shows very comforting, especially when visiting was difficult.

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I enjoyed the conversation at the beginning about being mindful of what you consume. I’ve found over the years that I’ve just don’t enjoy most TV nowadays because the characters are all horrible (Looking at you HBO). I’m fine with this because it made me consider how I was spending my time. I realized that I would much rather spend leisure time either reading more novels or playing single-player video games.

Last week, after last week’s on fighting distractions, I realized a recent big time suck for me was Youtube. The algorithm and design is so nefarious, yet as mentioned in this episode, there is great stuff so long as it can be timeboxed.

So I built a little locally hosted webservice which will download Youtube videos to my NAS. It’s running on a little 2018 mac mini and let’s me block the Youtube domain from my main machines. I use Reeder to notify my of new videos posted by a select few channels, then run a Shortcut which will trigger the mac mini to download the chosen video. It’s definitely a Rube Goldberg machine at the moment and will get some polish, but the initial feeling is that it works quite well for now. It helps me find the signal within the noise.


I think a lot of the digital vs. analog reading discussion is based primarily on the subjective preference of the person. However, when we choose to take a position on something, we tend to come up with logical arguments after the fact to justify our preference.

This is especially true in the productivity community. People feel obliged to make “better productivity” arguments about what is really just personal preference. My hunch is that a lot of the digital vs. analog discussion is this phenomenon at work.

It’s pretty obvious that digital device distractions can be easily controlled with implementing simple and readily available solutions like Focus Modes. And it’s also obvious that people can be easily distracted while reading analog books. That went on long before the digital age. Distractions really aren’t the issue here.

I recently wrote a blog post, Digital vs. Analog — Is Analog Reading Less Distracting Than Digital Reading? on this topic.


I wanted to point out that in addition to Overdrive ebooks and audio books, with Kindle support as well as the associated Libby app for iOS/Android, your local public library may offer Kanopy for streaming video, Hoopla for video, audio, ebooks and audiobooks, and Freegal, which allows you to stream lots of music, and download a few tracks MP3 tracks every week. These are all free to library patrons.

If your library is limited in its digital offerings, for $50.00/year most New York City public libraries will sell anyone anywhere a digital resources library card. Here’s the Queens public library page about their 'eCard."

I also want to mention the PBS Passport for $5.00 a month or $60.00 a year, with streaming access to a huge amount of PBS content.

Finally, Standard Ebooks produces high quality public domain free ebooks; lot of the literary canon is available in multiple ebook formats.


@ismh Baseball is boring? That cut deeply! :slightly_smiling_face: Here you go, perhaps this will give you a different perspective.

Now soccer, that is a different story. :rofl:

Greatest plays and games in St. Louis Cardinals baseball history.


Sometimes when I’m reading a physical book and come across a paragraph or two that I want to capture, I

  1. take a photo of the section
  2. quickly edit the photo edges in the photo app to remove grossly extraneous material
  3. save it
  4. import the photo into the iOS app Prizmo Go, which OCRs it and then copy and paste into my note-taking app

Caveat: I purchased Prizmo Go when it was much cheaper than today.

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the iOS photos app is surprisingly good at OCR


I’d watch pretty much anything before I’d turn on a basketball game. Different strokes….

Did you mean basketball or baseball? I’m fine with either but the two sports I watch are American football (especially SEC college football) and MLB.

Everyone has their favorites and some are not sports fans at all. I was just poking fun at @ismh. :slightly_smiling_face:

I’ve been trying to manage the firehose of digital content since forever—not just personally, but professionally too. (A few years before the dotcom bubble, memos, reports, and professional industry publications that used to circulate around the office via a buck slip or that you had to wait for in the mail were suddenly immediately available via the intra / internet and there was no easy way to say “That hasn’t hit my desk yet, I’ll get back to you when it does …” I think my work hours went up by 20% when the SEC put the EDGAR database online. Yes, I’m that old.)

For me at least, it takes as much discipline and focus as I can muster to keep from drowning in a flood tide of information.

To that end, Readwise Reader has been a godsend: it’s allowed me to fashion an exclusive repository of content that I plan to mine with intention. I still use News Explorer and GoodLinks for my casual rss and read-it-later needs, but the things I really need (or want) to read, highlight and take notes on—be it a book, an article, a newsletter, or what have you—goes into Readwise Reader. And, more importantly, into a filtered view. If something doesn’t fit into an existing filtered view or if I can’t build a view around it, it doesn’t belong in my Readwise Reader garden. It’s the equivalent of the velvet rope in front of an exclusive content club.

I’ve also made it a point to subscribe to the digital version of about a dozen publications (newpapers, magazines, newsletters, and journals) and to go there first for content. I’ve found that paying for content (and, in the case of Readwise Reader, for tools) is a great way to focus my attention on it. It’s just as easy to go to the publication’s mobile app or to Readwise Reader when I’m waiting in line as it is to doomscroll social media.

I’m fortunate that my public library (the New York Public Library) has an enormous research collection, much of which is available digitally, and excellent librarians to help me find what I need. But sometimes being able to wander around gawking at everything that’s available is too much of a good thing. :wink:


Yeah me too, just taking the p*** :grimacing:

I’m Canadian. Hockey #1, baseball #2. Don’t watch football or basketball at all.

It’s funny how big college sports are in the US compared to Canada.

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Indeed. I shamefully worked the other side of this in finance, setting up some reactive workflows based on digital documents or report values becoming available. Those systems saved a lot of clicks and physical sorting time, but also ruined solid once-a-day thinking and writing habits of more experienced professionals (like you) and made clients irate when they couldn’t get same-day turnaround.

I seriously think some of the retail and institutional losses in 2008 came from analysts and principals having a harder time thinking thoroughly.


That and not actually reading the prospectuses and trust agreements after they downloaded them. :wink:


Yup boring. Seen enough games live on trips to the US to make that judgement and no amount of edited highlights will change my mind. Any sport that needs TV pundits and statisticians to keep watchers attention is definitely boring. But at least it isn’t cricket a sport where the only enjoyable thing is the mid-match sandwiches and cakes.

Sigh. That’s because they never learned how to keep a scorecard. Of course, there’s an app for that.

Baseball is the perfect radio game, and I mean that as a compliment. It’s the sport you can enjoy while you’re doing chores or sitting in the shade with a cool drink in a tall glass watching the garden grow (and keeping a scorecard, of course.)