After watching the video on single tasking and contemplating some of his musings, I have a few thoughts. First, guilty - I was checking something on my phone when the video was playing. Next - to answer the question - Is the Internet really a productivity tool or merely an endless series of distractions? Well, depends. I know - super definitive answer. But really, it depends. It depends on what you're doing, how often you're doing it and how addictive your personality is. I really believe that technology is an addiction that needs attention. If you're unable to control the habit and it's beginning to interfere with other aspects of your life, then it become an endless series of distractions that fill your day, tire your eyes and prevent you from being productive. Technologically speaking, most things that have changed in our lives, have changed for the better. Computers are faster, TVs are clearer, Phones are more capable, but there needs to be a peak. Once you pass the peak, you're on a slippery slope on the way down.
To what extent have they made us more productive? As technology evolves, so do people. I don't know if I would blame technology for the laziness of office workers who sit on Facebook all day. Before Facebook, those people who aren't intrinsically motivated would have found something else, besides work, to fill their work day with. If we are discussing the intricacies of productivity, I would say yes, the productivity tools like Microsoft Office have certainly made us more productive. Making a spreadsheet or building a chart is much easier than it used to be. Pulling out a ruler or finding something else to make charts used to be time-consuming, frustrating and often ended up with a less than desirable product.
I can appreciate that these companies are in it for the money. Of course they are. They are making their apps and interfaces as user friendly as possible, not so that it's easier on us, but they are doing it so that we pick them. They bundle things so that they can have a stranglehold on a market. The consumer needs to be aware of the available options and know the risks of using some of these products. Tall order, but necessary.