What goes online

Have you lifehacked today?

Have you lifehacked today?

If you've spent any time with someone invested in today's technology world, you've inevitably heard this gem: an innocuous-sounding word that, in actuality, has nefarious implications.

The combination of the word "life," which requires no explanation, and "hack," a word that - despite negative connotation - essentially means the altering of a format to suit one's needs, forms "lifehack," a catch-all for the improvement of one's efficiencies online.

Indeed, there are books, Web sites, and weblogs devoted to the pursuit of paramount lifehacking; and you'll often find that prominent bloggers engage each other to list the technologies they've adopted to better remain organized in a frenetic world where business and pleasure so often collide. Tabbed browsing, for one, has solidified the dual-purpose browsing where you can be at home checking sports scores and work e-mail seemingly simultaneously. But be careful with that paste function.

Despite its noble intentions, lifehacking is a brutal pursuit that leaves only truly peaceful people sane. As any student of economics can attest, efficiency can never be reached, only improved upon. And nowhere is that more apparent than when you're worrying about lifehacking.

During the course of two weeks, I became wedded to three different styles of bookmarks, two forms of calendars, and three different ways (not including a browser) to write a blog post. The functionality between most is negligible, but the fear of choosing the service that will become extinct (or is inferior on some microscopic level) is palpable. The great irony of the Web 2.0 environment is that the more applications that hit the market to enhance your productivity, the more likely you are to spend your free time chained to beta testing.

The joke is that you may just be wasting more time trying to find the right technologies than you save employing them once you've settled upon  the "right" solutions. Indeed, lifehacking solutions eventually require their own solutions. Blogging - a pursuit many people attribute as "organizing their thoughts" - requires a decision about what software template to use to hold your thoughts and what writing software to use to write those thoughts. Then you have to worry about how to enable your feeds and how to receive everyone else's feeds. It makes keeping a moleskin journal sound much saner.

Inasmuch as the Web 2.0 environment is purportedly about collaboration, it doesn't mean that people aren't against making their own version of an existing service, rather than adding their thoughts to what's already out there. Sure, everyone wants to make their mark, but it makes for an environment reminiscent of Web 1.0, when there were too many high school alumni "registration" services to make any of them worthwhile. Lifehacking needs a good hack of its own.

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