I’ve been online since the mid-80s, but like most people, my role was primarily that of consumer. I started with email listservs and usenet newsgroups, reading and sometimes participating in discussions (and the occasional flame war). My wife was the first to show me the web (she was excited by all the educational and outreach materials people were sharing) but I couldn’t see the value of it. Yeah, I know…
Then I found some online journals (this was pre-“blog”) and found myself devouring the details of other people’s lives, marveling at how much they were willing to share. No ads, no monetization of any kind, just self publishing in it’s purest form. But again, I was just a consumer.
I went through a brief glimmer of productivity when I got into linux and set up an ftp and web server for my flow cytometry lab. I was teaching flow cytometry workshops for researchers and grad students, and I started putting that content online, using the Gimp to create and edit graphics, and even creating some simple animations. All that content’s been gone for years (I left the lab in 2000), and I fell back into the consumer role, a comfortable one for a kid of the Gilligan’s Island generation.
That changed when I took the YourTurnChallenge: in the past two weeks I’ve cranked out more content than I have in the past 5 years, and it’s been a rewarding ride. But I’ve realized in the last few days that I’m out of balance, and it’s a mild case of social media addiction. I’ve connected with a number of interesting and productive authors and artists around the world, and now I’m constantly checking facebook, reading the blogs of all my fellow “challengers”, and in danger of spending too much time consuming. So I’m going have to issue myself another challenge, and ration my passive consumption of content. I’m thinking of trying 30 minutes in the morning (to catch up with all my late night friends) and then another 30-60 minutes in the late afternoon or evening. Any other time facebook is closed, notifications off.
For those of you who’ve taken the challenge, has it changed your online habits? If so, do you have any tips for maintaining a balance between consuming, creating, and all the friends and family you see in person?