Attention Control

turned on Focus signage
Photo by Stefan Cosma / Unsplash

I found myself browsing Netflix to find something to watch and Netflix in 2019 is not the same as Netflix a few years ago. Instead of broad categories of years past each grouping of movies says - "Because you watched {movie}, you will like...". The system is slowly learning what movies I like and puts those forward so I continue to stay on the platform.

The goal being that I continue to find content to watch, ergo I continue to spend money, ergo Netflix makes money.

I've written about this plenty of times. I talked about how everything instantaneous is preferred, how services are removing chronological updates and how we are depending massively on social networks.

So here we are in 2019 where every online services wants to hold your attention as much as possible. You can see this with applications like Tinder and Bumble (online dating apps) where notifications are pushed to you, if you ignore the application.

I then found an outlier, a website that encouraged you to not get addicted.

Like email, social news sites can be dangerously addictive. So the latest version of Hacker News has a feature to let you limit your use of the site. There are three new fields in your profile, noprocrast, maxvisit, and minaway. (You can edit your profile by clicking on your username.) Noprocrast is turned off by default. If you turn it on by setting it to "yes," you'll only be allowed to visit the site for maxvisit minutes at a time, with gaps of minaway minutes in between. The defaults are 20 and 180, which would let you view the site for 20 minutes at a time, and then not allow you back in for 3 hours. You can override noprocrast if you want, in which case your visit clock starts over at zero.

For those that don't know, Hacker News is basically an aggregator of technical news whether it be a new version of a language/software or a news story that involves tech.

Snippet of website on 2/10/2019

As you can see from above image, this website is not anything special. It reminds me of Craigslist, but it works and I'd rather it never change. It loads quick and gives me the information I want, then after 20 minutes I can't visit again for 3 hours.

The message you get when measures kick-in

Not every website needs to enforce its own mechanism of time management, but when every application out there is trying to steal my time it is a strange sight to see something do the opposite. I wonder what the public perception of all these attention demanding services will be in a decade.

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