On Technology
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On Technology

How I consume Information

This article describes my playbook for consuming information. It is a “work in progress” is constantly evolving. Regardless, and as always, feedback is greatly appreciated!

Push

By pushes, I mean information that is “pushed” by someone else, in realtime, towards me. With a push, information production and consumption happen at the same time. For example, a realtime phone conversation is an example of a push — where someone speaks to you, and you listen (roughly) simultaneously.

Pushes are disruptive, and so I try to keep it to a minimum. I have only one medium for push information: the Phone. By “phone” mean the old-fashioned sense of the word, where one person “phones” (verb) another person using a phone (noun); not the modern smartphone with its plethora of Apps. Hence, if someone wants me to respond “in realtime”, they would have to phone me; no other medium would work.

Pushes have “sound notification” enabled; unlike pulls.

Anytime Push

Only a very small number of phone numbers can ring me at anytime, even when my phone is “on silent”. They include about a dozen phone numbers from close friends and family, a few related to work (e.g. On calls), and special numbers (e.g. Credit Card Fraud Alerts).

The people on Anytime Push know my schedule, when my phone is on silent, and know not to disturb me, except at the most urgent times.

Limited-Time Push

All phone numbers that are not on Anytime Push mode (which is about 99% of my address book) are on Limited-Time Push mode. These people cannot reach me when my phone is on silent, which is:

  • When I’m sleep
  • During meetings
  • Special occasions like events, holidays and vacations, when I’m not feeling well

Pull

I like to keep Pushes to a minimum, and hence, consume most of my information via Pulls; where I “pull” information from the source, instead of having the source “push” the information towards me.

Unlike pushes, pulls don’t have sound notifications. Hence, a device won’t disturb me with a “beep” or a “ping”.

Anytime Pull

Anytime Pulls are where I allow myself to pull information at any time, at my discretion. These include non-muted messaging (e.g. SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Skype, LinkedIn Messages), and special notifications (e.g. Banks).

By “non-muted” I mean, conversations which I have not muted. Many messaging conversations are more like Email, in that they don’t deserve instant attention and can easily wait several hours.

Anytime Pulls have visual notifications, like badges and popups, but like all Pulls, don’t have sound notifications. Other Pulls (i.e pulls that are not Anytime Pulls) have no notifications.

4 Hour Pull

4 Hour Pulls include information I “pull” (roughly) every 4 hours; say at 8 am, 12 noon, 4 pm, and 8 pm daily. These include Email and muted-messagging.

Daily Pull

Daily Pulls include information I consume daily. These include reading Books, Bookmarked News, News-Magazines, and other long-form sources.

I also “glance” at News about once daily, and bookmark long-form articles to be read later.

Weekly Pull

Weekly Pulls include News and Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn feeds).

“News” also includes “paper” newspapers. While I subscribe to one daily “paper” newspaper, I only read them on Saturdays, in one big batch.

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Nuwan I. Senaratna

I am a Computer Scientist and Musician by training. A writer with interests in Philosophy, Economics, Technology, Politics, Business, the Arts and Fiction.