From the Boidem - 
an occasional column on computers and information technologies in everyday life

February 28, 2002*: Get a Life!

Numerous work related tasks have kept me up late into the night for most of the past two or three months. These tasks, along with a number of non-work related activities, have made it difficult for me to devote the time that I'd like to writing these columns. Then again, numerous work related tasks have kept me up late into the night for most of the past two or three years. Then, as now (or is it "now, as then"), I've succeeded in posting a column. Essentially, the race against time, the attempt to meet a personally set deadline to which nobody other than myself holds me, has become a sort of underlying, and unstated, theme of many of these columns, and an integral part of my life as well. Why, in that case, have I chosen this time to permit some of those tasks to come out from behind the curtains and for a moment take center stage? What sort of justification do I have for reviewing them here? For making them the subject of a column?

Frankly, I'm not sure what the answer to that question is - which may well be the reason that I'm asking it and writing a column about it. For readers this may seem to be an ultimate exercise in self-indulgence, but for me it's more a case of using the medium to try and figure out just why I use the medium. Because more often than not I'm swamped with tasks to which I have to attend, I've been playing with the idea of ceasing the publication of these columns. Meeting externally set deadlines is hard and stressful enough; why make things harder by imposing on myself ones which are internally set? As is, I suppose, true of many people who run from project to project, hardly finding time to breath in between, I'm often in need of pig-out time. For me that time takes on a few different, though predictable, forms. I have two books sitting next to my bed. They will probably continue to sit there almost indefinitely because I've discovered that I fall asleep on the first page of even the most interesting books. I'm also good at falling asleep to late-night television. It really doesn't matter what's on, I can watch ten to fifteen minutes of any almost unbearable show, and before I can get myself organized and ask myself why I'm wasting my time in this way, I find that I've been asleep for at least twenty minutes in front of the television. I also, believe it or not, surf the web.

Of course it's not only work that keeps me from devoting all of my time to writing these columns. There's family as well. As previously noted (at least once) one of my main familial duties is throwing out the daily papers after they've become piles so high that we bump into them as we try to manuver about in our home. I also wash the dishes, do a substantial part of the rather minimal cooking that goes on in the house, and most of the baking. Through much of the work on this column I've also had my hands full with various flus and ear infections and the like, including administering medicines and visits to the doctor. I've even had homework.

Getting back to the title of this column, yet one more question demands to be asked. Am I suggesting that the writing of these columns keeps me from other, more pressing, if not more important, tasks? Am I hinting that I've become a web-addict who doesn't read, doesn't go out to play, doesn't get my work done or take care of my family because I'm preoccupied with this project? Hardly. If it's balance I'm concerned with, I think that I'm actually doing quite a good job. Other than when I'm asleep at night, for much of the past three months my internet connection has been open from home almost whenver I am. Often it's simply there. Nobody is sitting in front of the screen; I'm not waiting for mail to arrive. We're busy with various tasks, and our internet connection is open. A question may come up that to which we can find an answer on the web, so why not leave the connection open. The boys have started to learn to search for information, be it for school or for fun, and it's nice to have the connection open for whatever need may arise. It's definitely not a case of either/or - of abandoning the web in order to get a life. Instead, it's a case of being a part of that life. And in the end that means that the topic of this column isn't these columns themselves, but that ever-open connection.

That's it for this edition. Reactions and suggestions can be sent to:

Jay Hurvitz

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