I've noticed a worrisome pattern about website discovery services like digg, reddit and StumbleUpon. They almost invariably return stories that are readable in a very short time, with minimum of concentration, and they are usually funny trivia, American politics (typically from "liberal" point of view) or technology news.
Just take a look at reddit top 10 right now:
- video of 500kV switch opening (9 sec) - an amusing video, digestible in literally 9 seconds.
- FCC orders media ownership study destroyed... guess what its conclusions were? - news on politics, "big media and FCC are evil", digestible in 1 minute
- Unbelievable microscopic art - cute trivia, digestible in 30 seconds
- Default Password List - a list with high omg factor, very few will actually use it, digestible in 5 seconds
- Don't trash broken stuff; send it back - "how to get something for nothing" story, digestible in 1 minute, very few people will do it, most just read it for fun
- The Stormtrooper Effect and The Inverse Ninja Law - another funny stuff digestible in 1 minute
- Won't Deploy? Can't Deploy.There are no more troops to send to Iraq. - politics, "Bush and war in Iraq are evil", digestible in 1 minute
- A 82 year old widow rented a rotary dial telephone for 42 years, paying AT&T more than $14,000 in the process - funny trivia, digestible in 30 seconds
- Right-wingers Reject Senate Report and Invent New Saddam- Al-Queda Myth - politics, "Bush and right wing bloggers are evil", digestible in 1 minute
- LETTER: Powell Blasts Bush Plan To Authorize Torture - politics, "Bush and war in Iraq are evil", digestible in 1 minute
Now how likely is such treatment to increase attention deficit problems after long term usage ? I have no idea, but a few studies already show that there is a global decrease in attention spans, so it is not totally unlikely.
And the real question - should you keep using digg/reddit/StumbleUpon ? Are you sure how it influences your mental abilities ? Are you worried at least a little bit ?