"Infosnacking" was anointed the word of the year for 2005 by the folks at Webster's. I missed that declaration, but had certainly become a practitioner of the concept. In the past few weeks, though, I've heard it used numerous times, so I'm now enlightened.
As I understand it, infosnacking has a negative connotation, at least from an employer's perspective. It means "checking e-mail, Googling sports scores, shopping online and surfing the latest headlines" while at work, according to Webster's. But I regarded those frequent diversions as - at various times - research, stretching my mind, staying abreast of current events, mining for conversation tidbits useful in chats with clients -- or at least something more productive than crossword or sudoku puzzles, which is what many colleagues were doing. When done on company time it's apparently infosnacking, but when on your own time it's, well, surfing. (which was probably a word-of-the-year a few years back, or at least a new-usage-of-an-existing-word of the year) So did surfing become infosnacking at the same time that streaming media became podcasts? Whereas I used to surf for streaming sportscasts, now I infosnack on sports podcasts.
In my mind, however, infosnacking has another connotation: it's light and shallow, er, junk-food reading. Not that the content is necessarily of poor quality or lacking in substance, but the degree to which I take it in, or the priority I give it is rather cursory. And I'm constantly tempted to click that link found in the middle of the page just to see if the evidence was taken out of context or maybe to peruse another article which may be more cleverly written. I'll hop from Drudge to the WSJ to CNET to CNN to Nature to Bloomberg to Google to Newsbusters to MyDD to Digg to Foxnews to MSN to Slashdot to a realtor's site to Woot to... well, you get the picture.
This is one of those posts that seems to go nowhere and can exemplify what I dislike about most Blogs. So much of what bloggers put up is about nothing and really shouldn't be regarded as worthy of anyone's time, other than maybe the blogger's family or the political candidate who's hiring them to work for his campaign.
So, to get something productive from the four people still reading this... tell me, do you infosnack? And if so, would that apply to your consumption here at The Tech Report? Are you easily distracted from our reviews by those links to other articles, evidence, price searches, sites of hardware manufacturers and the like? Or do you really invest yourself in our feature articles, taking time to pore over the research and analysis? Do you read carefully enough to get the dry and cynical cultural references and our not-so-subtle hints directed at manufacturers? Or do you skim the intro, jump to a specific benchmark and maybe grab the conclusion before chasing the rabbit that ran through your mind and hopped on the left mouse button as the pointer hovered over that fifth tab in your browser? And how did you get here? By taste-testing a link on another site? Are multiple links between sites a good thing because they facilitate this mass consumption of new and different data, or would we be better off with less cross-pollination and more reliance on search engines or the development of a loyal audience that visits daily?