I used to be so impressed by the ability to tap a word while reading on my phone for a definition. It seemed both a brilliant and a natural design decision: collapse the act of referring to the dictionary and get the reader back into the text as quickly as possible. But just yesterday, reading on paper, I came across a word I didn’t know and I relished it. I didn’t get up and get the dictionary. I thought about what that word might mean, enjoyed the sentence changing as I swapped out different meanings, and then continued on, happy in my ignorance. I got more out of it than if I had known the word.
I know of computer programs that disable one’s internet connection for a certain period of time. I’ve read about someone who locks their router and cell phone in a safe during the weekends. I wonder — so many design decisions facilitating absorption and creation are about making the process faster, more efficient. Maybe the future will be about intelligently slowing things down, purposefully and subtly making things a little more difficult. Gently forcing people to play and reach.