Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Interesting thing of the day

I admit that a lot of things about the online world are a bit hectic - maybe even chaotic. The more involved you get, the more you can get swept up by hype - Do this! Do that! Look at this!

Since I am easily distracted, I can have trouble getting my work done when there are a lot of other things going on. And as the web has grown to include so much more than just words on a screen, like music and video, the distraction factor has grown considerably.

So I'd like to step back, take a deep breath and tell you about a site that I visit often -- especially when things are getting a little hectic.

It's called Interesting Thing of the Day.

Almost every day (usually about 3 times a week, actually) Joe Kissell (author of Take Control of Mac OSX Backups - one of my favourites) or his partner Morgen Jahnke, (the well-known introvert) offers up a well-researched essay on something interesting. They're always well written, usually thought-provoking and always...well...interesting.

Like this one, for example. Although Silent Retreats: a different way of listening first appeared on July 4, 2004, it's still as refreshing to read and ponder today as it was then.
In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, one of the main characters is an alien named Ford Prefect from a planet near Betelgeuse. Although he looks, talks, and acts more or less human, there are many things about earthlings that puzzle him, such as the fact that they seem to talk all the time—even if only to repeat the obvious. Over the course of several months, he comes up with a number of theories for this behavior, one of which I found particularly insightful: “If human beings don’t keep exercising their lips, he thought, their brains start working” (p. 49). I’ve frequently noticed, on the one hand, that many people like to surround themselves with sound all the time (making their own if all else fails); and on the other hand, that contemplation is a foreign and uncomfortable concept to most of us. An increasingly popular way of overcoming the sound habit, at least briefly, is to go on a silent retreat.
How's that for an opening paragraph? I like the way it leads into the subject of the day, which is a bit about the history and the benefits of not talking.

The topics presented can be almost anything. Just recently, they've had a few stories with Canadian content, featuring the Alberta Tar Sands, Saturna Island here in BC and the Athabasca Sand Dunes in Saskatchewan.

They site doesn't have flashy videos, but they do have an audio option, so you can have the Interesting Thing of the Day read to you, if you prefer that. I recommend signing up for the RSS feed, so you can enjoy them whenever they're released.

I like the site and the stories and I admire the work that Joe and Morgen put into it. You can find out more about some of their other work right on the site. Be sure to check out the FAQs for a chuckle and lots more info about the blog.

2 comments:

Joe Kissell said...

Dave,

Thanks so much for all your kind words about Interesting Thing of the Day! Morgen and I really appreciate the recommendation!

Cheers,

Joe Kissell

Dave said...

My pleasure Joe. I'm a big fan of yours and look forward to more of your stuff on the blog and Tidbits and MacVoices, etc. Keep it up.