I have noticed myself responding differently to same Slack requests depending on the messenger. This heuristic to focus attention is not wrong, but it makes me biased in an uncomfortable way. An idea I have considered is to patch the CSS for Slack so that I don't see user names at all. But I found that to have more disadvantages than advantages.

There are many similar cases where I have developed primitive reading biases depending on the source of content, other people's opinions etc. And what I have realized is that a lot of those can be trimmed off easily.

I have started reading Hacker News again and found the default settings in most Android apps to be full of factors that could bias me. I used to look at the source, number of comments, scores, etc. to decide which item to read and up to what depth. I am experimenting with removing all these from the post listing view as shown below.

Figure 1: Default list (left) of stories and a bias-reduced list (right). It's extremely easy to get biased by number of comments, points, source, etc. Screenshot from Harmonic.

As a result of this, I have slowed down, been reading deliberately, thinking more and arguing with myself, rather than trying to find a summary or pre-formed views. Earlier I would probably rush through 15 articles in one sitting. Now it's just 1 or 2. But the reading is rewarding. It's deeper, I start from the title, try to understand what I should be getting out, then go in, validate the claims, and everything else that is part of a healthy reading practice.

Doing this has exposed the reading-depth continuum for every category of reading I do. And there are personal sweet spots in all. I believe I am a little closer to the spot in one of the categories now.