snovak's blog

Modern media, a permanent impact on attention?

I'm currently reading "Deep Work" by Cal Newport. Last night I read through a sentence that caused some alarm...

"To make matters worse for depth, there’s increasing evidence that this shift toward the shallow is not a choice that can be easily reversed. Spend enough time in a state of frenetic shallowness and you permanently reduce your capacity to perform deep work.

Newport, Cal. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (p. 7). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition. " I thought it pertinent to further research on the subject. What studies have been done that confirms this cause and effect? Does engagement of social media, video watching, and regular distraction with multiple "attention getting" inputs permanently impact one's ability to focus on deeper, harder, and more valuable work?

Is this a claim, based on factual data?  Or is this unwarrented concern following the changes that modern society introduces?

Side note: I wonder if this sort of search is counter productive, as I'll likely find affirming studies, if I find anything at all.

First, Let's start with Cal's own notes, in the back of the book: 

“What the Net seems to be doing is” and “I’m not the only one”: Carr, Nicholas. “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” The Atlantic Monthly, July–August 2008.

Newport, Cal. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (p. 266). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition. 

A Man's Search For Meaning - My story, condensed.

At work, we leverage our HR software to help guide the trajectory of our career, as employees.  I've been pretty delinquent in filling out those boxes, mainly because I've been in the throws of "doing" that I have had little time to reflect on what I find important, motivating, and/or meaningful in my work.  I believe I am where I am because God put me here.  My station in life feels perfect to my existing skills set.  But still, I might like to be a bit more cognizant of the long term path tragectory.  

What better way to get in the mood to reflect and plan one's future than with a book as a guide?  "A Man's Search For Meaning" by Viktor E. Frankl is one such book.  It is half an account of Viktor's real life experiences in a few concentration camps of Nazi Germany, some most famous in the worst ways; among them, Auschwitz and Dachau.

He went into detail about the human will to live and to die.  What gives a man the will to survive such a situation?  Viktor argues that a man's sense of meaning can be that fuel that pulls one through the darkest situations, or even turn around most mundane existence.  Viktor founded and practices Logotherapy as a psychiatrist.  "Logotherepy", based on the Greek word Logo, which translates to "meaning", is the belief, "...that it is the striving to find a meaning in one's life that is the primary, most powerful motivating and driving force in humans". 

I highly recommend reading the book.  I've picked up and put down many books recently.  This one held my attention fully and struck a chord for me.  

You're very welcome to stop reading here, as I don't expect you to give a shit about me and my goals.  But, this is a blog, which is about me.. so fuck you.  :-p

I'm a bit of a futurist.  A big fan of Ray Kurzweil, who's books I should review and recount.  I mean to make the point, also, that I'm an optimist.  I am hopeful for our place in the world, hopeful for the future of mankind.  And I hope to be a positive force, a piece of the puzzle that helps bring that future into the present.  

Speaking of puzzles, I think that is one of my super powers!  Fitting pieces together that seem unrelated.  I am interested in EVERYTHING!  Throughout the years of gaining knowledge and skills in a very diverse field of disciplines, I have a rather unique pool of experience to pull from.  From having been an SAE certified auto mechanic, with deep knowledge of the mechanics and the systems of automobiles.  How they work together as a whole.  The engine, it's various components, relationships.  How they cooperate to create horsepower and torque.  Transmissions both automatic, which are way more complicated and fascinating , and manual transmissions.  Fuel systems.  Ignition systems of different kinds and mechanics.  A/C systems.  Breaking systems.  And of course, the ECU, up to OBD II at least, as I exited the automotive industry in the 90's.  That was mostly my high-school years.  

What I am trying to communicate is that I love knowing how things work.  I love the detail and depth, it's all fascinating.  And, nothing is quite as deep and fascinating as computers, programming, Human-Computer Interaction, 3D Computer Graphics, what they have brought and will continue to bring to our future.  

That journey began for me at an early age, in the pre-internet world of dial-up BBS (Bulletin Board Systems), Nintendo, and comic books.  I LOVED comic books and its many characters, especially the DareDevil.  But, what I probably liked most, was the art.  I would buy comic books, for a favorite character, but more so if it had one or two illustrations that were just mind blowing in complexity and skill.  I would take it home and study it; The muscle structure, the pose, the lighting, the bad assiness of the character, rendered perfectly in the gritty pen and ink graffiti-like style that only the best artists can manage.  I would plop down at my old desk with a blank piece of printer paper and stare at that page.  Then, painstakingly attempt to transfer that image onto my own blank slate.  

It started at art.  After my above-mentioned venture into auto-mechanics, I realized I didn't want to turn a wrench forever.  That was cool, and complex, and all.  But, it wasn't a terminal pursuit for me. Come to think of it, my thirst for knowledge has never found end, even now.  So, I went to college for art.  At first, Graphic Design; where pen and ink, and drawing by hand still reigned supreme.  This was still just before computers and the internet took over the world, in the late 90s.  A time when CompuServe was giving way to AOL, and we were still bleeping and booping our way online via dial-up modems.  The first wildly successful computer animated movie, Pixar's "Toy Story", had made a big impression.  I saw the future of art.  So, after earning my 2 year degree in Graphic Design; I sought out the very first, still infantile, classes for Computer Animation at Florida Atlantic University.  

In Computer Animation, I found something so deep and complex and fascinating that it firmly held my, normally erratic, attention.  If you think an automotive transmission is complex, pop open Maya!  So, that's what I did, I dove into the bottomless complexities of Computer Graphics, Animation, Storytelling, and Programming.  Like any good artist, one must know their tools.  That is where I started into code.  

While in school, I found a number of freelance gigs designing websites for various established businesses and startups.  


to be continued.... 

Donations, Donations! Paid, In-app, vs Freemium payment models?

Here I am, days away from my final release of my first app.  Currently, I'm developing the payment system.  And only now, I'm really thinking about the different pay models available for apps. 

 I'm obviously not taking a long break from working a "day job" to build this app because "I think it's a good idea."  I DO want to get paid and build a business about it.  But, as a developer and artist, I've never been very good with business, or asking people for money for that matter.  So, the question comes... What do I charge for this thing, which I've been working so hard on for months?  How do I ask for the money that I need to continue to provide content and upgrades?  Do I charge at all???

That last question is what is nagging me.  Some might known it as, the "Freemium" model.  Where some developer choose to go the in-app advertising path.  That's not at all what I'm speaking of here.  What I want is a win-win.. all the way.  So I started to research it, which surprisingly, there's very little coverage of a pure "Donations Model".  

One of the first times I've heard of this donations only method of profit is from Dan Carlin's - Hardcore History series of podcasts, which I highly recommend you listen to.  (Try this instead of watching "American Idol" in the afternoon..... sinner blushangelwink).  It is surprising to hear, straight from Dan Carlin, that this works!  To give your content freely and people offer up their money in return, without the price tag!  Really?  I'm skeptical, but I can't help but think about it.  

I HAVE listened to Hardcore History, and enjoyed it VERY much.  I have had every good intention of donating.... but in the end, I have not.  Though, I probably wouldn't have listened to the podcast in the first place, had it not been for the freemium model.  And, then I wouldn't be struggling with the thought about giving Dan money right this very moment.  Dan wants his podcast listened to by the widest audience possible.  Just as I want my app installed on every single Canes fan device.

Will giving the app away, bundled with the "poor developer plea" psycologically play on the user's sense of benevolence and compassion?  Will the user feel compelled to offer up a fee, more or less than what I would have charged ($2.99), and feel good about it?  Alternatively, do Canes fans feel they aught to pay for officially licensed content in the first place?  And, am I over analysing?

I'll stop there.  But, I'm intersted to hear any feedback. 

Notes:  I'm farily confident that charging for the app up front, the "Paid" model, is not the way to go..  For a strong bit of supporting evidence, you need only to look at the Top Grossing Apps in the Google Play and Apple stores.  They are all Free, In-app purchase supported.  I wonder which, if any in the list run off donations?



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