Well this topic was easy to come up with because I just fell prey to a virtual rabbit hole - the internet is a dangerous place ;).
The Dangers of Virtual Rabbit Holes
We've all done it, haven't we. Clicked on that one link that has then led to another, and another, and another, until we look up two hours later and wonder why our eyes feel like they've been sandblasted.
For me this time I was looking for some traditional ghost stories to help inspire some short stories of my own. Unfortunately I found Listverse and it was downhill from there. Honestly, don't click on that link unless you want to lose a few hours :).
- simply curiosity
- the need to find a source
- the need to dispute a fact
- a recommendation
Anything can lead us to the entrance to the rabbit hole that sucks us down.
However, there is line between usefulness and procrastination.
Often is is a very thin line.
The internet is set up to entice us to click that one more link. It's the whole idea of the place :). We can lose whole days on clicking if we are not careful. Most of us are sponges for information and the internet offers so much. We simply want more and more.
Personally, I don't think it's possible to over-research a subject until, that is, we reach the point where the research becomes a block to actually creating what the research was for. We can usually feel that balancing point as well. We just have to remember to take note of it.
Here are some techniques to make sure the rabbit hole isn't too deep:
- set a time limit for clicking
- set a limit on the number of new pages to visit
- make a mental agreement to stop when the same links start popping up as reference (because we all know they will)
- make a mental agreement to stop when we have enough information for the project, rather than keeping going until we know everything
- all of the above :).
I find the time limit the easiest, but the others also work if, when I started clicking, I didn't realise I was headed for a rabbit hole in the first place, like today. I stopped when I saw the same links popping up as suggested next visiting points. That's when I knew it was time to let my mouse rest a while.
In all honesty, virtual rabbit holes can be fun, that's the problem. We must be strong! ;)