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The Tyranny of Convenience - The New York Times
"Convenience has the ability to make other options unthinkable. Once you have used a washing machine, laundering clothes by hand seems irrational, even if it might be cheaper. After you have experienced streaming television, waiting to see a show at a prescribed hour seems silly, even a little undignified. To resist convenience — not to own a cellphone, not to use Google — has come to require a special kind of dedication that is often taken for eccentricity, if not fanaticism.

For all its influence as a shaper of individual decisions, the greater power of convenience may arise from decisions made in aggregate, where it is doing so much to structure the modern economy. Particularly in tech-related industries, the battle for convenience is the battle for industry dominance.

Americans say they prize competition, a proliferation of choices, the little guy. Yet our taste for convenience begets more convenience, through a combination of the economics of scale and the power of habit. The easier it is to use Amazon, the more powerful Amazon becomes — and thus the easier it becomes to use Amazon. Convenience and monopoly seem to be natural bedfellows.

Given the growth of convenience — as an ideal, as a value, as a way of life — it is worth asking what our fixation with it is doing to us and to our country. I don’t want to suggest that convenience is a force for evil. Making things easier isn’t wicked. On the contrary, it often opens up possibilities that once seemed too onerous to contemplate, and it typically makes life less arduous, especially for those most vulnerable to life’s drudgeries.

But we err in presuming convenience is always good, for it has a complex relationship with other ideals that we hold dear. Though understood and promoted as an instrument of liberation, convenience has a dark side. With its promise of smooth, effortless efficiency, it threatens to erase the sort of struggles and challenges that help give meaning to life. Created to free us, it can become a constraint on what we are willing to do, and thus in a subtle way it can enslave us.

It would be perverse to embrace inconvenience as a general rule. But when we let convenience decide everything, we surrender too much."



"By the late 1960s, the first convenience revolution had begun to sputter. The prospect of total convenience no longer seemed like society’s greatest aspiration. Convenience meant conformity. The counterculture was about people’s need to express themselves, to fulfill their individual potential, to live in harmony with nature rather than constantly seeking to overcome its nuisances. Playing the guitar was not convenient. Neither was growing one’s own vegetables or fixing one’s own motorcycle. But such things were seen to have value nevertheless — or rather, as a result. People were looking for individuality again.

Perhaps it was inevitable, then, that the second wave of convenience technologies — the period we are living in — would co-opt this ideal. It would conveniencize individuality.

You might date the beginning of this period to the advent of the Sony Walkman in 1979. With the Walkman we can see a subtle but fundamental shift in the ideology of convenience. If the first convenience revolution promised to make life and work easier for you, the second promised to make it easier to be you. The new technologies were catalysts of selfhood. They conferred efficiency on self-expression."



"I do not want to deny that making things easier can serve us in important ways, giving us many choices (of restaurants, taxi services, open-source encyclopedias) where we used to have only a few or none. But being a person is only partly about having and exercising choices. It is also about how we face up to situations that are thrust upon us, about overcoming worthy challenges and finishing difficult tasks — the struggles that help make us who we are. What happens to human experience when so many obstacles and impediments and requirements and preparations have been removed?

Today’s cult of convenience fails to acknowledge that difficulty is a constitutive feature of human experience. Convenience is all destination and no journey. But climbing a mountain is different from taking the tram to the top, even if you end up at the same place. We are becoming people who care mainly or only about outcomes. We are at risk of making most of our life experiences a series of trolley rides.

Convenience has to serve something greater than itself, lest it lead only to more convenience. In her 1963 classic, “The Feminine Mystique,” Betty Friedan looked at what household technologies had done for women and concluded that they had just created more demands. “Even with all the new labor-saving appliances,” she wrote, “the modern American housewife probably spends more time on housework than her grandmother.” When things become easier, we can seek to fill our time with more “easy” tasks. At some point, life’s defining struggle becomes the tyranny of tiny chores and petty decisions.

An unwelcome consequence of living in a world where everything is “easy” is that the only skill that matters is the ability to multitask. At the extreme, we don’t actually do anything; we only arrange what will be done, which is a flimsy basis for a life.

We need to consciously embrace the inconvenient — not always, but more of the time. Nowadays individuality has come to reside in making at least some inconvenient choices. You need not churn your own butter or hunt your own meat, but if you want to be someone, you cannot allow convenience to be the value that transcends all others. Struggle is not always a problem. Sometimes struggle is a solution. It can be the solution to the question of who you are.

Embracing inconvenience may sound odd, but we already do it without thinking of it as such. As if to mask the issue, we give other names to our inconvenient choices: We call them hobbies, avocations, callings, passions. These are the noninstrumental activities that help to define us. They reward us with character because they involve an encounter with meaningful resistance — with nature’s laws, with the limits of our own bodies — as in carving wood, melding raw ingredients, fixing a broken appliance, writing code, timing waves or facing the point when the runner’s legs and lungs begin to rebel against him.

Such activities take time, but they also give us time back. They expose us to the risk of frustration and failure, but they also can teach us something about the world and our place in it.

So let’s reflect on the tyranny of convenience, try more often to resist its stupefying power, and see what happens. We must never forget the joy of doing something slow and something difficult, the satisfaction of not doing what is easiest. The constellation of inconvenient choices may be all that stands between us and a life of total, efficient conformity."
timwu  convenience  efficiency  psychology  business  2018  inconvenience  effort  technology  economics  work  labor  conformity  value  meaning  selfhood  self-expression  change  individuality  slow  slowness  customization  individualization  amazon  facebook  apple  multitasking  experience  human  humanness  passions  hobbies  resistance  struggle  choice  skill  mobile  phones  internet  streaming  applemusic  itunes 
february 2018 by robertogreco
The Burnout Society | Byung-Chul Han
"Our competitive, service-oriented societies are taking a toll on the late-modern individual. Rather than improving life, multitasking, "user-friendly" technology, and the culture of convenience are producing disorders that range from depression to attention deficit disorder to borderline personality disorder. Byung-Chul Han interprets the spreading malaise as an inability to manage negative experiences in an age characterized by excessive positivity and the universal availability of people and goods. Stress and exhaustion are not just personal experiences, but social and historical phenomena as well. Denouncing a world in which every against-the-grain response can lead to further disempowerment, he draws on literature, philosophy, and the social and natural sciences to explore the stakes of sacrificing intermittent intellectual reflection for constant neural connection."
books  toread  byung-chulhan  work  labor  latecapitalism  neoliberalism  technology  multitasking  depression  attention  add  adhd  attentiondeficitdisorder  personality  psychology  philosophy  convenience  neurosis  psychosis  malaise  society  positivity  positivepsychology  capitalism  postcapitalism 
january 2018 by robertogreco
10 ways to have a better conversation
"Celeste Headlee is an expert in talking to people. As part of her job as a public radio host and interviewer, she talks to hundreds of people each year, teasing from her guests what makes them interesting. At a TEDx conference two years ago, Headlee shared 10 tips for having a better conversations that work for anyone:

1. Don’t multitask.
2. Don’t pontificate.
3. Use open-ended questions.
4. Go with the flow.
5. If you don’t know, say that you don’t know.
6. Don’t equate your experience with theirs.
7. Try not to repeat yourself.
8. Stay out of the weeds.
9. Listen.
10. Be brief.

Watch the video for the explanations of each point. I’m pretty good on 1, 5, & 7 while I struggle with 3, 4, and sometimes 6. 9 is a constant struggle and depends on how much I’ve talked with other people recently."
conversation  classideas  listening  howto  tutorials  celesteheadlee  multitasking  pontification  questionasking  questioning  flow  notknowing  uncertainty  experience  repetition  brevity 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Screen time guidelines need to be built on evidence, not hype | Science | The Guardian
"Moral panic about the impact of new technologies on our behaviour and development is not new. Socrates railed against the dangers of writing for fear that it would nurture “forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories.” One source of contemporary anxiety is “screen time”. Recently, a letter signed by a group of writers, psychologists and charity heads raised concerns that childhood health and wellbeing in the UK is declining, in part due to “increasingly screen-based lifestyles.” The signatories argued that the policy response to these concerns, first raised over a decade ago, has been half-hearted and ineffective.

As a group of scientists from different countries and academic fields with research expertise and experience in screen time, child development and evidence-based policy, we are deeply concerned by the underlying message of this letter. In our opinion, we need quality research and evidence to support these claims and inform any policy discussion. While we agree that the wellbeing of children is a crucial issue and that the impact of screen-based lifestyles demands serious investigation, the message that many parents will hear is that screens are inherently harmful. This is simply not supported by solid research and evidence. Furthermore, the concept of “screen time” itself is simplistic and arguably meaningless, and the focus on the amount of screen use is unhelpful. There is little evidence looking at the impact of the context of screen use, and the content that children encounter when using digital technologies – factors that may have a much greater impact than sheer quantity alone.

If the government were to implement guidelines on screen-based technology at this point, as the authors of the letter suggest, this would be on the basis of little to no evidence. This risks the implementation of unnecessary, ineffective or even potentially harmful policies. For guidelines to have a meaningful impact, they need to be grounded in robust research evidence and acknowledge that children’s health and wellbeing is a complex issue affected by many other factors, such as socioeconomic status, relational poverty, and family environment – all of which are likely to be more relevant for children’s health and well-being than screens. For example, there is no consistent evidence that more screen time leads to less outdoor play; if anything the evidence indicates that screen time and physical outdoor activity are unrelated, and reductions in average time spent in outdoor play over time seem to be driven by other factors. Policy efforts to increase outdoor play that focus on screen time are therefore likely to be ineffective.

Any simplistic approach to issues facing childhood health and wellbeing is inappropriate, and a focus on screen time is not evidence-based. Divisive and scaremongering rhetoric that takes a casual approach to evidence is unhelpful at best and, in our opinion, damaging. Digital technologies are part of our children’s lives, necessarily so in the 21st century. We agree that further research is necessary, and urge the government and research funding bodies to invest in this, so that clear policy and better guidelines for parents can be built on evidence, not hyperbole and opinion."
multitasking  parenting  screentime  children  2017  research  behavior  technology 
january 2017 by robertogreco
All That Multitasking is Harming, Not Helping Your Productivity. Here’s Why. | KQED Future of You | KQED Science
"How the Digital Age Zaps Productivity

I visited Gazzaley in his UCSF laboratory, Neuroscape, to learn more about the science of distraction. Gazzaley pulled up, on a TV screen, a 3-D image of a brain, created from an MRI Scan. He pointed to different sections to explain what’s going on when our attention flits between tasks.

“The prefrontal cortex is the area most challenged,” Gazzely says. “And then visual areas, auditory areas, and the hippocampus — these networks are really what’s challenged when we are constantly switching between multiple tasks that our technological world might throw at us.”

When you engage in one task at a time, the prefrontal cortex works in harmony with other parts of the brain, but when you toss in another task it forces the left and right sides of the brain to work independently. The process of splitting our attention usually leads to mistakes.

In other words, each time our eyes glance away from our computer monitor to sneak a peak at a text message, the brain takes in new information, which reduces our primary focus. We think the mind can juggle two or three activities successfully at once, but Gazzaley says we woefully overestimate our ability to multitask.

“An example is when you attempt to check your email while on a conference call,” says Gazzaley. “The act of doing that makes it so incredibly obvious how you can’t really parallel process two attention-demanding tasks. You either have to catch up and ask what happened in the conversation, or you have to read over the email before you send it — if you’re wise!”

Answering an Email Takes A Lot Longer Than You Think

Gazzaley stresses that our tendency to respond immediately to emails and texts hinders high-level thinking. If you’re working on a project and you stop to answer an email, the research shows, it will take you nearly a half-hour to get back on task.

“When a focused stream of thought is interrupted it needs to be reset,” explains Gazzaley. “You can’t just press a button and switch back to it. You have to re-engage those thought processes, and recreate all the elements of what you were engaged in. That takes time, and frequently one interruption leads to another.”

In other words, repetitively switching tasks lowers performance and productivity because your brain can only fully and efficiently focus on one thing at a time.

Plus, mounting evidence shows that multitasking could impair the brain’s cognitive abilities. Stanford researchers studied the minds of people who regularly engage in several digital communication streams at once. They found that high-tech jugglers struggle to pay attention, recall information, or complete one task at a time.

“When they’re in situations where there are multiple sources of information coming from the external world or emerging out of memory, they’re not able to filter out what’s not relevant to their current goal,” says Stanford neuroscientist Anthony Wagner. “That failure to filter means they’re slowed down by that irrelevant information.”

The researchers are still studying what’s causing multitaskers to perform poorly on cognitive tests. It could be that they are born with an inability to concentrate, or digital distractions are taking a toll. In any case, the researchers believe the minds of multitaskers are not performing optimally.

And the habit of multitasking could lower your score on an IQ test, according to researchers at the University of London.

Creating Digital Boundaries

But don’t worry. Gazzaley says. It’s not about opting out of technology. In fact, there’s a time and place for multitasking. If you’re in the midst of a mundane task that just has to get done, it’s probably not detrimental to have your phone nearby or a bunch of tabs open. The distractions may reduce boredom and help you stay engaged. But if you’re finishing a business plan, or a high-level writing project, then it’s a good idea to set yourself up to stay focused."
multitasking  cognition  collaboration  email  organization  productivity  2016  adamgazzaley  larryrosen 
october 2016 by robertogreco
Read This Story Without Distraction (Can You?) - The New York Times
"Maybe this doesn’t feel like a big deal. Doing one thing at a time isn’t a new idea.

Indeed, multitasking, that bulwark of anemic résumés everywhere, has come under fire in recent years. A 2014 study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that interruptions as brief as two to three seconds — which is to say, less than the amount of time it would take you to toggle from this article to your email and back again — were enough to double the number of errors participants made in an assigned task.

Earlier research out of Stanford revealed that self-identified “high media multitaskers” are actually more easily distracted than those who limit their time toggling.

So, in layman’s terms, by doing more you’re getting less done.

But monotasking, also referred to as single-tasking or unitasking, isn’t just about getting things done.

Not the same as mindfulness, which focuses on emotional awareness, monotasking is a 21st-century term for what your high school English teacher probably just called “paying attention.”"



"This is great news for the self-identified monotaskers out there.

Jon Pack, a 42-year-old photographer in Brooklyn, was happy to hear that his single-minded manner might be undergoing a rebrand. “When I was looking for jobs and interviewing, they’d always want me to say, ‘I’m a great multitasker,’ ” he said. “And I wouldn’t. My inability to multitask was seen as a negative. Now I can just say, ‘I am a monotasker. I am someone who works best when I focus on one thing at a time.’ ”

And the way we work can have effects that kick in long after we clock out.

As much as people would like to believe otherwise, humans have finite neural resources that are depleted every time we switch between tasks, which, especially for those who work online, Ms. Zomorodi said, can happen upward of 400 times a day, according to a 2016 University of California, Irvine study. “That’s why you feel tired at the end of the day,” she said. “You’ve used them all up.”

The term “brain dead” suddenly takes on a whole new meaning.

A good sign you’ve task-switched yourself into a stupor: mindlessly scrolling Facebook at the end of the night or, as in Ms. Zomorodi’s case, looking at couches on Pinterest. “I just stuff my brain full of them because I can’t manage to do anything else,” she said. “The sad thing is that I don’t get any closer to deciding which one I like.”

But monotasking can also make work itself more enjoyable.

“I can multitask — and do, of course; it’s kind of essential — but I prefer to do one thing at a time,” Hayley Phelan, a 28-year-old writer, wrote in an email. “If I keep looking at my phone or my inbox or various websites, working feels a lot more tortuous. When I’m focused and making progress, work is actually pleasurable.”

Ms. Phelan isn’t imagining things. “Almost any experience is improved by paying full attention to it,” Ms. McGonigal said. “Attention is one way your brain decides, ‘Is this interesting? Is this worthwhile? Is this fun?’ ”

It’s the reason television shows we tweet through feel tiresome and books we pick up and put down and pick up again never seem to end. The more we allow ourselves to be distracted from a particular activity, the more we feel the need to be distracted. Paying attention pays dividends.

This is why, according to Ms. McGonigal, the ability to monotask might be most valuable in social situations. “Research shows that just having a phone on the table is sufficiently distracting to reduce empathy and rapport between two people who are in conversation,” she said.

Twenty-five thousand people participated in Ms. Zomorodi’s Infomagical project, which started the week with a single-tasking challenge. Upon completion, respondents agreed overwhelmingly that single-tasking was the No. 1 thing they wanted to carry into their post-Infomagical lives. “But they also said it was really, really hard,” Ms. Zomorodi said.

Parents of young children found it difficult for obvious reasons, as did people with jobs that permit them less control over their time. In those cases, try monotasking in areas where you can: conversations with your children, reading a book in bed before they go to sleep, dinner or drinks with friends. After all, monotasking is a good skill to incorporate into all aspects of your life, not just work.

Even those with more flexibility can find themselves going to great lengths for a little bit of focus. Nick Pandolfi, who works in partnerships at Google, once traveled to northern Sweden in what he described as an “extreme” effort to monotask.

“I had to write my business school application essays, and I was having no luck spending an hour here and there after work and on the weekends,” Mr. Pandolfi said. “I just wasn’t inspired. After spending a few days hiking in the Arctic by myself, I was able to get all of them done in just a few days.”"



"Monotasking can also be as simple as having a conversation.

“Practice how you listen to people,” Ms. McGonigal said. “Put down anything that’s in your hands and turn all of your attentional channels to the person who is talking. You should be looking at them, listening to them, and your body should be turned to them. If you want to see a benefit from monotasking, if you want to have any kind of social rapport or influence on someone, that’s the place to start. That’s where you’ll see the biggest payoff.”"
multitasking  attention  monotasking  singletasking  2016  psychology  cognition  cognitiveload  conversation  janemcgonigal  listening  presence  cv 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Education’s war on millennials: Why everyone is failing the “digital generation” - Salon.com
"Both reformers and traditionalists view technology as a way to control students — and they're getting it very wrong"



"In addressing the hundreds of thousands who watch such videos, students aren’t the only ones in the implied audience. These videos appeal to many nonacademic viewers who enjoy watching, from a remove, the hacking of obstreperous or powerful systems as demonstrated in videos about, for instance, fooling electronic voting booths, hacking vending machines, opening locked cars with tennis balls, or smuggling contraband goods through airport x-ray devices. These cheating videos also belonged to a broader category of YouTube videos for do-it-yourself (DIY) enthusiasts— those who liked to see step-by-step execution of a project from start to finish. YouTube videos about crafts, cooking, carpentry, decorating, computer programming, and installing consumer technologies all follow this same basic format, and popular magazines like Make have capitalized on this sub-culture of avid project-based participants. Although these cultural practices may seem like a relatively new trend, one could look at DIY culture as part of a longer tradition of exercises devoted to imitatio, or the art of copying master works, which have been central to instruction for centuries."



"Prior to the release of this report, Mia Consalvo had argued that cheating in video games is expected behavior among players and that cheaters perform important epistemological work by sharing information about easy solutions on message boards, forums, and other venues for collaborations.

Consalvo also builds on the work of literacy theorist James Paul Gee, who asserts that video game narratives often require transgression to gain knowledge and that, just as passive obedience rarely produces insight in real classrooms, testing boundaries by disobeying the instructions of authority figures can be the best way to learn. Because procedural culture is ubiquitous, however, Ian Bogost has insisted that defying rules and confronting the persuasive powers of certain architectures of control only brings other kinds of rules into play, since we can never really get outside of ideology and act as truly free agents, even when supposedly gaming the system.

Ironically, more traditional ideas about fair play might block key paths to upward mobility and success in certain high-tech careers. For example, Betsy DiSalvo and Amy Bruckman, who have studied Atlanta-area African-American teens involved in service learning projects with game companies, argue that the conflict between the students’ own beliefs in straightforward behavior and the ideologies of hacker culture makes participation in the informal gateway activities for computer science less likely. Thus, urban youth who believe in tests of physical prowess, basketball-court egalitarianism, and a certain paradigm of conventional black masculinity that is coded as no-nonsense or—as Fox Harrell says—“solid” might be less likely to take part in forms of “geeking out” that involve subverting a given set of rules. Similarly, Tracy Fullerton has argued that teenagers from families unfamiliar with the norms of higher education may also be hobbled by their reluctance to “strategize” more opportunistically about college admissions. Fullerton’s game “Pathfinder” is intended to help such students learn to game the system by literally learning to play a game about how listing the right kinds of high-status courses and extracurricular activities will gain them social capital with colleges."



"However, Gee would later argue in “The Anti-Education Era” that gamesmanship that enables universal access and personal privilege may actually be extremely counterproductive. Hacks that “make the game easier or advantage the player” can “undermine the game’s design and even ruin the game by making it too easy.” Furthermore, “perfecting the human urge to optimize” can go too far and lead to fatal consequences on a planet where resources can be exhausted too quickly and weaknesses can be exploited too frequently. Furthermore, Gee warns that educational systems that focus on individual optimization create cultures of “impoverished humans” in which learners never “confront challenge and frustration,” “acquire new styles of learning,” or “face failure squarely.”"



"What’s striking about the ABC coverage is that it lacked any of the criticism of the educational status quo that became so central for a number of readers of the earlier Chronicle of Higher Education story—those who were asking as educators either (1) what’s wrong with the higher education system that students can subvert conventional tests so easily, or (2) what’s right with YouTube culture that encourages participation, creativity, institutional subversion, and satire."



"This attitude reflects current research on so-called distributed cognition and how external markers can help humans to problem solve by both making solutions clearer and freeing up working memory that would otherwise be tied up in reciting basic reminders. Many of those commenting on the article also argued that secrecy did little to promote learning, a philosophy shared by Benjamin Bratton, head of the Center for Design and Geopolitics, who actually hands out the full text of his final examination on the first day of class so that students know exactly what they will be tested on."



"This book explores the assumption that digital media deeply divide students and teachers and that a once covert war between “us” and “them” has turned into an open battle between “our” technologies and “their” technologies. On one side, we—the faculty—seem to control course management systems, online quizzes, wireless clickers, Internet access to PowerPoint slides and podcasts, and plagiarism-detection software. On the student side, they are armed with smart phones, laptops, music players, digital cameras, and social network sites. They seem to be the masters of these ubiquitous computing and recording technologies that can serve as advanced weapons allowing either escape to virtual or social realities far away from the lecture hall or—should they choose to document and broadcast the foibles of their faculty—exposure of that lecture hall to the outside world.

Each side is not really fighting the other, I argue, because both appear to be conducting an incredibly destructive war on learning itself by emphasizing competition and conflict rather than cooperation. I see problems both with using technologies to command and control young people into submission and with the utopian claims of advocates for DIY education, or “unschooling,” who embrace a libertarian politics of each-one-for-himself or herself pedagogy and who, in the interest of promoting totally autonomous learning in individual private homes, seek to defund public institutions devoted to traditional learning collectives. Effective educators should be noncombatants, I am claiming, neither champions of the reactionary past nor of the radical future. In making the argument for becoming a conscientious objector in this war on learning, I am focusing on the present moment.

Both sides in the war on learning are also promoting a particular causal argument about technology of which I am deeply suspicious. Both groups believe that the present rupture between student and professor is caused by the advent of a unique digital generation that is assumed to be quite technically proficient at navigating computational media without formal instruction and that is likely to prefer digital activities to the reading of print texts. I’ve been a public opponent of casting students too easily as “digital natives” for a number of reasons. Of course, anthropology and sociology already supply a host of arguments against assuming preconceived ideas about what it means to be a native when studying group behavior.

I am particularly suspicious of this type of language about so-called digital natives because it could naturalize cultural practices, further a colonial othering of the young, and oversimplify complicated questions about membership in a group. Furthermore, as someone who has been involved with digital literacy (and now digital fluency) for most of my academic career, I have seen firsthand how many students have serious problems with writing computer programs and how difficult it can be to establish priorities among educators—particularly educators from different disciplines or research tracks—when diverse populations of learners need to be served."



"Notice not only how engagement and interactivity are praised and conflated, but also how the rhetoric of novelty in consumer electronics and of short attention spans also comes into play."
education  technology  edtech  control  reform  policy  power  2014  traditionalism  traditionalists  plagiarism  pedagogy  learning  schools  cheating  multitasking  highered  highereducation  politics  elizabethlosh  mimiito  ianbogost  jamespaulgee  homago  betsydisalvo  amybruckman  foxharrell  geekingout  culture  play  constraints  games  gaming  videogames  mckenziewark  janemcgonigal  gamesmanship  internet  youtube  secrecy  benjaminbratton  unschooling  deschooling  collaboration  cooperation  agesegregation  youth  teens  digitalnatives  marshallmcluhan  othering  sivavaidhyanathan  digital  digitalliteracy  attention  engagement  entertainment  focus  cathydavidson 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Discover The Road — Join a Community of People Who Wonder...
"Hi, my name is Kirk Wheeler. Discover the road is about finding a path in the chaos and learning what it means to live an authentic life. You can learn more about my reasons for starting this journey here: The First Step.

I don’t have all of the answers, but I believe that together we can learn how to ask better questions. An ongoing list of ideas on how to do just that can be found at the Rules of the Road."



"Question everything. … Do not let perfect be the enemy of good. … There is no failure, only feedback."



"Question everything. … Make progress. … Embrace the journey."

[See also: https://soundcloud.com/discovertheroad
http://www.discovertheroad.com/podcasts ]

[Listened to this one "On Chaos, Zen, Love and How To Remain Loyal To The Mystery" (several of the tags used for this bookmark are for that specific podcast:
https://soundcloud.com/discovertheroad/episode-10-stuart-davis-on-chaos-zen-love-and-how-to-remain-loyal-to-the-mystery
http://www.discovertheroad.com/podcast/stuart-davis ]
via:ablaze  interviews  creativity  podcasts  life  spirituality  kirkwheeler  impermanence  death  questioning  stuarddavis  meditation  well-being  living  chaos  balance  multitasking  messiness  resilience  presence  sleep  self-knowledge  uncertainty  progress  questioneverything  skepticism  change 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Most People Can't Multitask, But a Few Are Exceptional. : The New Yorker
"In 2012, David Strayer found himself in a research lab, on the outskirts of London, observing something he hadn’t thought possible: extraordinary multitasking. For his entire career, Strayer, a professor of psychology at the University of Utah, had been studying attention—how it works and how it doesn’t. Methods had come and gone, theories had replaced theories, but one constant remained: humans couldn’t multitask. Each time someone tried to focus on more than one thing at a time, performance suffered. Most recently, Strayer had been focussing on people who drive while on the phone. Over the course of a decade, he and his colleagues had demonstrated that drivers using cell phones—even hands-free devices—were at just as high a risk of accidents as intoxicated ones. Reaction time slowed, attention decreased to the point where they’d miss more than half the things they’d otherwise see—a billboard or a child by the road, it mattered not.

Outside the lab, too, the multitasking deficit held steady. When Strayer and his colleagues observed fifty-six thousand drivers approaching an intersection, they found that those on their cell phones were more than twice as likely to fail to heed the stop signs. In 2010, the National Safety Council estimated that twenty-eight per cent of all deaths and accidents on highways were the result of drivers on their phones. “Our brain can’t handle the overload,” Strayer told me. “It’s just not made that way.”

What, then, was going on here in the London lab? The woman he was looking at—let’s call her Cassie—was an exception to what twenty-five years of research had taught him. As she took on more and more tasks, she didn’t get worse. She got better. There she was, driving, doing complex math, responding to barking prompts through a cell phone, and she wasn’t breaking a sweat. She was, in other words, what Strayer would ultimately decide to call a supertasker.

About five years ago, Strayer recalls, he and his colleagues were sorting through some data, and noticed an anomaly: a participant whose score wasn’t deteriorating with the addition of multiple tasks. “We thought, That can’t be,” he said. “So we spent about a month trying to see an error.” The data looked solid, though, and so Strayer and his colleagues decided to push farther. That’s what he was doing in London: examining individuals who seemed to be the exception to the multitasking rule. A thousand people from all over the U.K. had taken a multitasking test. Most had fared poorly, as expected; in the London lab were the six who had done the best. Four, Strayer and his colleagues found, were good—but not quite good enough. They performed admirably but failed to hit the stringent criteria that the researchers had established: performance in the top quartile on every individual measure that remained equally high no matter how many tasks were added on. Two made every cut—and Cassie in particular was the best multitasker he had ever seen. “It’s a really, really hard test,” Strayer recalls. “Some people come out woozy—I have a headache, that really kind of hurts, that sort of thing. But she solved everything. She flew through it like a hot knife through butter.” In her pre-test, Cassie had made only a single math error (even supertaskers usually make more mistakes); when she started to multitask, even that one error went away. “She made zero mistakes,” Strayer says. “And she did even better when she was driving.”

Strayer believes that there is a tiny but persistent subset of the population—about two per cent—whose performance does not deteriorate, and can even improve, when multiple demands are placed on their attention. The supertaskers are true outliers. According to Strayer, multitasking isn’t part of a normal distribution akin to birth weight, where even the lightest and heaviest babies fall within a relatively tight range around an average size. Instead, it is more like I.Q.: most people cluster in an average range, but there is a long tail where only a tiny fraction—single digits among thousands—will ever find themselves."



"The flip side, of course, is that, for the ninety-seven and a half per cent of us who don’t share the requisite genetic predisposition, no amount of practice will make us into supertasking stars. In separate work from Stanford University, a team of neuroscientists found that heavy multitaskers—that is, those people who habitually engaged in multiple activities at once—fared worse than light multitaskers on measures of executive control and effective task switching. Multitasking a lot, in other words, appeared to make them worse at it. (In his earlier work, Strayer didn’t find that drivers who were used to talking on their phones while driving performed any better on multitasking measures than those who weren’t. Laboratory practice didn’t help improve their test scores, either.) “In these particular tasks, you can’t get much of a practice effect,” Strayer says.

The irony of Strayer’s work is that when people hear that supertaskers exist—even though they know they’re rare—they seem to take it as proof that they, naturally, are an exception. “You’re not,” Strayer told me bluntly. “The ninety-eight per cent of us, we deceive ourselves. And we tend to overrate our ability to multitask.” In fact, when he and his University of Utah colleague, the social psychologist David Sanbomnatsu, asked more than three hundred students to rate their ability to multitask and then compared those ratings to the students’ actual multitasking performances, they found a strong relationship: an inverse one. The better someone thought she was, the more likely it was that her performance was well below par.

At one point, I asked Strayer whether he thought he might be a supertasker himself. “I’ve been around this long enough I didn’t think I am,” he said. Turns out, he was right. There are the Cassies of the world, it’s true. But chances are, if you see someone talking on the phone as she drives up to the intersection, you’d do better to step way back. And if you’re the one doing the talking? You should probably not be in your car."
multitasking  attention  2014  mariakonnikova  davidstrayer  supertaskers  singletasking  safety  taskswitching  executivecontrol  monotasking 
may 2014 by robertogreco
The Open-Office Trap : The New Yorker
"The open office was originally conceived by a team from Hamburg, Germany, in the nineteen-fifties, to facilitate communication and idea flow. But a growing body of evidence suggests that the open office undermines the very things that it was designed to achieve. In June, 1997, a large oil and gas company in western Canada asked a group of psychologists at the University of Calgary to monitor workers as they transitioned from a traditional office arrangement to an open one. The psychologists assessed the employees’ satisfaction with their surroundings, as well as their stress level, job performance, and interpersonal relationships before the transition, four weeks after the transition, and, finally, six months afterward. The employees suffered according to every measure: the new space was disruptive, stressful, and cumbersome, and, instead of feeling closer, coworkers felt distant, dissatisfied, and resentful. Productivity fell.

In 2011, the organizational psychologist Matthew Davis reviewed more than a hundred studies about office environments. He found that, though open offices often fostered a symbolic sense of organizational mission, making employees feel like part of a more laid-back, innovative enterprise, they were damaging to the workers’ attention spans, productivity, creative thinking, and satisfaction. Compared with standard offices, employees experienced more uncontrolled interactions, higher levels of stress, and lower levels of concentration and motivation. When David Craig surveyed some thirty-eight thousand workers, he found that interruptions by colleagues were detrimental to productivity, and that the more senior the employee, the worse she fared."
business  environment  productivity  work  2014  officedesign  openoffices  openclassrooms  noise  matthewdavis  privacy  quiet  psychology  nickperham  garyevans  danajohnson  heidirasila  peggierothe  alenamaher  courtneyvonhippel  distraction  attention  multitasking  anthonywagner  schooldesign 
january 2014 by robertogreco
The abundance of slowness | Metagramme
"At Metagramme, the problem wasn’t cruel or unreasonable clients. They were actually kind and generous, for the most part. I had no one to blame but myself. It was time to man up in a major way. One of the glaring issues I faced was a total lack of boundaries. No phone call was too late to answer, no email too early. My lack of boundaries came from fear. Fear of what would happen if I said no more often. Fear of missing deadlines or disappointing customers. I was also afraid of allowing quiet reflection and creative diversions into the work day. I was punching the clock like any hourly employee. The story I told myself was that slowness and emptiness were the same thing. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I’ve found recently that when the time is used well, slowness can actually be one of the most profound sources of abundance."
adminstration  management  leadership  workculture  business  busyness  sayingno  singletasking  multitasking  seattime  meetings  focus  boundaries  falseheroism  workslavery  balancemburnout  attention  time  davidheinemeier  jasonfried  workaholics  work  slowness  slow  via:nicolefenton  monotasking 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Millennials will benefit and suffer due to their hyperconnected lives | Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project
"Teens and young adults brought up from childhood with a continuous connection to each other and to information will be nimble, quick-acting multitaskers who count on the Internet as their external brain and who approach problems in a different way from their elders, according to a new survey of technology experts.

Many of the experts surveyed by Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center and the Pew Internet Project said the effects of hyperconnectivity and the always-on lifestyles of young people will be mostly positive between now and 2020. But the experts in this survey also predicted this generation will exhibit a thirst for instant gratification and quick fixes, a loss of patience, and a lack of deep-thinking ability due to what one referred to as “fast-twitch wiring.”"

[See also: http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Hyperconnected-lives/Main-findings/Negative-effects.aspx ]
externalmemory  patience  technology  2012  multitasking  pewinternetproject  pew  instantgratification  millenials  communication  psychology 
march 2012 by robertogreco
Language Log » Are “heavy media multitaskers” really heavy media multitaskers?
"But in my opinion, it doesn't support it nearly strongly enough. What's at stake here is a set of major choices about social policy and personal lifestyle. If it's really true that modern digital multitasking causes significant cognitive disability and even brain damage, as Matt Richtel claims, then many very serious social and individual changes are urgently needed. Before starting down this path, we need better evidence that there's a real connection between cognitive disability and media multitasking (as opposed to self-reports of media multitasking). We need some evidence that the connection exists in representative samples of the population, not just a couple of dozen Stanford undergraduates enrolled in introductory psychology. And we need some evidence that this connection, if it exists, has a causal component in the multitasking-to-disability direction."
multitasking  psychology  linguistics  internet  language  brain  2010  science  disability  cognition  cognitive  cognitivedisability  media  society  mattrichtel  socialpolicy  via:preoccupations  disabilities 
october 2010 by robertogreco
Scientists go rafting « Mind Hacks
"If you really wanted to see if there were any differences related to technology you’d want people to live their regular lives without the devices they usually rely on. Sending people on holiday just isn’t useful because you can’t tell whether any differences are due to changes in diet, sleeping patterns or sunset banjo playing.<br />
<br />
The piece is also based on the bizarre premise that technology = multi-tasking and this is a new and ‘unnatural’ form of mental activity that may be ‘changing us’."
journalism  science  neuroscience  multitasking  mindhacks  technology  attention 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Everything-ism - Bobulate ["This is no two-burner strategy. This is everything-ism.""]
"James Franco seems to defy burner-isms. A recent piece raises at least two questions: 1) Can he be for real? 2) If so, then just how is all of this possible?

"As soon as Franco finished at UCLA, he moved to NY & enrolled in 4 of [grad school programs]: NYU for filmmaking, Columbia for fiction writing, Brooklyn College for fiction writing, & a low-residency poetry program at Warren Wilson College in NC. This fall, at 32, before he’s even done with all of these, he’ll be starting at Yale, for a PhD in English, & also at RISD."

"According to his mother, Betsy, Franco has been this way since he was born. In kindergarten, he wouldn’t just build regular little block towers — he’d build structures that used every single block in the playroom. At night, he would organize his Star Wars toys before he slept. When Franco was 4 years old, a friend of the family died...He was inconsolable. Eventually...choke[s] out,...“But I don’t want to die! I have so much to do!”"

[Referencing: http://nymag.com/movies/profiles/67284/ ]
lizdanzico  jamesfranco  davidsedaris  everything-ism  education  busyness  balance  extremes  performanceart  multitasking 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Medieval Multitasking: Did We Ever Focus? | Culture | Religion Dispatches [via: http://kottke.org/10/07/medieval-multitasking]
"The function of these images in illuminated manuscripts has no small bearing on the hypertext analogy. These “miniatures” (so named not because they were small—often they were not—but because they used red ink, or vermillion, the Latin word for which is minium) did not generally function as illustrations of something in the written text, but in reference to something beyond it. The patron of the volume might be shown receiving the completed book or supervising its writing. Or, a scene related to a saint might accompany a biblical text read on that saint’s day in the liturgical calendar without otherwise having anything to do with the scripture passage. Of particular delight to us today, much of the marginalia in illuminated books expressed the opinions and feelings of the illuminator about all manner of things—his demanding wife, the debauched monks in his neighborhood, or his own bacchanalian exploits."
attention  manuscripts  medieval  nicholascarr  internet  hypertext  history  distraction  books  literacy  reading  technology  text  writing  multitasking  literature  communication  clayshirky  elizabethdrescher 
july 2010 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: The Question of Attention
"Is your ability to attend to random flashing red rectangles a fair measuring system? Well, that's what always makes research funny. In order to quantify the human experience in a "valid" way you have to strip it down to a point where the experience itself is completely out of context and thus meaningless.

This "out of context research" is why, for example, I see so many high school graduates these days who can read perfectly fluently (which "research" says is important) while not comprehending one word. And, in the case of "attention," it is why we have so many smart people suddenly declaring that they are unable to "walk and chew gum at the same time.""

[One of several insightful posts about multitasking lately that move beyond the blanket good or bad.]
multitasking  attention  irasocol  learning  focus  research  bias  subtlety  singletasking  monotasking 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Stowe Boyd - Creativity Increased By Multitasking
"I love stories that debunk conventional wisdom, especially cobwebby corporate wish fulfillment. In this case, a wholesale frontal assault on creativity training: Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman, Forget Brainstorming ...[long quote]... Bronson & Merryman do go on to make some concrete recommendations & observations:

Physical activity loosens up creativity muscles.
Throw away the suggestion box: it’s demotivating.
Don’t watch TV.
‘Do something only you would come up with — that none of your friends and family’ — and co-workers — ‘would come up with.’ - Mark Runco
But the one I found most compelling is that multitasking seems to support creativity:

Take a break.

Those who study multi-tasking report that you can’t work on two projects simultaneously, but the dynamic is different when you have more than one creative project to complete. In that situation, more projects get completed on time when you allow yourself to switch between them if solutions don’t come immediately. This corroborates surveys showing that professors who set papers aside to incubate ultimately publish more papers. Similarly, preeminent mathematicians usually work on more than one proof at a time.

Perhaps my bias toward multitasking is based on the nature of the work I do, and that I think is central to most professionals: it’s creative work. So putting something down when you have come to a halt, and turning your mind to something else for a while actually increases our capacity for creative thought.

Again, proof that we aren’t chairs, we are people."
stoweboyd  multitasking  creativity  howwework  process  tv  television  suggestions  suggestionboxes  markrunco 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Forget Brainstorming - Newsweek
"Those who study multi-tasking report that you can’t work on two projects simultaneously, but the dynamic is different when you have more than one creative project to complete. In that situation, more projects get completed on time when you allow yourself to switch between them if solutions don’t come immediately. This corroborates surveys showing that professors who set papers aside to incubate ultimately publish more papers. Similarly, preeminent mathematicians usually work on more than one proof at a time."
brainstorming  groupthink  howto  psychology  teaching  thinking  intelligence  creativity  education  innovation  process  howwework  cv  multitasking  taskswitching  slowmultitasting  timeouts 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Medieval Multitasking: Did We Ever Focus? | Culture | Religion Dispatches
"Engaged by brilliant illuminations; challenged by reading in Latin, without spacing btwn words, capitalization, or punctuation; & invited into the commentary of past readers of the text, medieval readers of Augustine, Dante, Virgil, or the Bible would surely be able to give today’s digitally-distracted multitaskers a run for our money. The physical form of the bound book brought together all of these various “links” into one “platform” so that the diverse perspectives of a blended contemporary & historical community of thinkers could be more easily accessed."
multitasking  history  technology  hypertext  communication  distraction  medieval  literacy  internet  books  writing  reading  davidbrooks  nicholascarr  focus 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Stowe Boyd — The War On Flow
"So, it’s a culture war, and Brooks joins Nick Carr, Andrew Keen, and a long list of others who say that what we are doing on the web is immoral, illegitimate, and immature. They are threatened by the change in values that seems to accompany deep involvement in web culture, a change that diminishes much of what Brooks holds up for our regard in his piece. I don’t mean the specific authors he may have been alluding to — although he names none but Carr — but rather a supposed hierarchical structure of western culture, which is reflected in the literary niche is supports.
books  culture  flow  literacy  reading  web  internet  elitism  hierarchy  davidbrooks  stoweboyd  nicholascarr  andrewkeen  multitasking  online 
july 2010 by robertogreco
City Brights: Howard Rheingold : Attention literacy
"Mindfulness and norms, my students helped me see, are essential tools for those who would master the arts of attention.

The point of this story isn't to get everyone to pay attention to me or professors in general - it's that I want my students to learn that attention is a skill that must be learned, shaped, practiced; this skill must evolve if we are to evolve. The technological extension of our minds and brains by chips and nets has granted great power to billions of people, but even in the early years of always-on, it is clear to even technology enthusiasts like me that this power will certainly mislead, mesmerize and distract those who haven't learned - were never taught - how to exert some degree of mental control over our use of laptop, handheld, earbudded media."
education  howardrheingold  pedagogy  multitasking  laptops  learning  attention  1to1  1:1  21stcenturylearning  21stcenturyskills  literacy  learning2.0  classroom  tcsnmy  mobile  phones  media  socialmedia  lindastone  continuouspartialattention  productivity  mindfulness  listening  conversation  focus  classrooms 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Change the Conversation on Teaching - Bridging Differences - Education Week
"Reading NYT Mag pieces on medicine is always intriguing. Education & medicine are often compared—in ways that remind me how little our frame for considering teaching is realistic. The other night I heard several very good "educators" on C-SPAN answering questions from the Labor & Education Committee of Senate. Both the AFT's Randi Weingarten & Michigan State's Deborah Ball were sharp, clear, & convincing. But... They, too, talked about what we can learn from other professions, focusing primarily on the preparation that law & medicine offer prospective candidates. Yes, & we can learn from the preparation of electricians & carpenters, too. But there is one very fundamental difference. Teachers must solve the problems facing anywhere btwn 20 & 35 students at a time. Not one at a time. They have at most 5 minutes to write up notes on the class that's leaving before the next one arrives. &, few students come back to us year after year, as hopefully some do with lawyers & doctors."
deborahmeier  teaching  complexity  howwework  multitasking  time  doctors  lawyers  professions  tcsnmy  classsize  reflection  looping  cv  education  schools  unschooling  deschooling  lcproject  policy  administration  management  media  tv  television  politics  2010 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Multitasking Brain Divides And Conquers, To A Point : NPR
"Our brains are set up to do two things at once, but not three, a French team reports in the journal Science.

The researchers reached that conclusion after studying an area of the brain involved in goals and rewards. Their experiment tested people's abilities to accomplish up to three mental tasks at the same time. The tasks involved matching letters in different ways, and for incentive, participants were paid up to a euro for doing a task perfectly.

When volunteers were doing just one task, there was activity in goal-oriented areas of both frontal lobes, says Etienne Koechlin, a professor at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris.

That suggested that the two sides of the brain were working together to get the job done, he says.

But when people took on a second task, the lobes divided their responsibilities. "Each frontal lobe was pursuing its own goal," Koechlin says."
multitasking  research  singletasking  monotasking 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Mini-multitaskers: For young people, a tendency to multitask may impoverish learning, productivity and even friendships.
"Peek behind the bedroom doors of children and teens who are supposedly doing homework, and you may find they're doing that and much more—text messaging friends, surfing the Internet and listening to iPods. In fact, according to a 2006 Kaiser Family Foundation study, almost two-thirds of 8- to 18-year-olds using a computer to do homework are also doing something else at the same time. And during a typical week, 81 percent of young people report "media multitasking" at least some of the time. Multitasking may seem modern and efficient, but research suggests that it slows children's productivity, changes the way they learn and may even render social relationships more superficial."
education  learning  attention  multitasking  relationships  productivity  messaging  tcsnmy  internet  online  via:hrheingold 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Former Google Executive On Getting Organized : NPR
"In this era of information overload, the experience of being stressed, forgetful and overwhelmed means your mind is perfectly normal. Douglas Merrill, author of the new book Getting Organized in the Google Era, writes about his own struggle with dyslexia, and how that forced him to develop techniques for remembering information."
timemanagement  productivity  organization  books  infooverload  multitasking  singletasking  dyslexia  monotasking 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Clive Thompson to Texters: Park the Car, Take the Bus | Magazine
"We should change our focus to the other side of the equation & curtail not the texting but the driving. This may sound a bit facetious, but I’m serious. When we worry about driving & texting, we assume that the most important thing the person is doing is piloting the car. But what if the most important thing they’re doing is texting? How do we free them up so they can text without needing to worry about driving?
texting  driving  safety  transportation  us  japan  europe  future  focus  multitasking  clivethompson 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Scholars Turn Their Attention to Attention - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"In a recent unpublished study, he and his colleagues found that chronic media multitaskers—people who spent several hours a day juggling multiple screen tasks—performed worse than otherwise similar peers on analytic questions drawn from the LSAT. He isn't sure which way the causation runs here: It might be that media multitaskers are hyperdistractible people who always would have done poorly on LSAT questions, even in the pre-Internet era. But he worries that media multitasking might actually be destroying students' capacity for reasoning.
multitasking  learning  education  academia  cognition  sociology  culture  science  reading  teaching  brain  attention  memory 
february 2010 by robertogreco
A new class of content for a new class of device « Snarkmarket
"the web kinda hates bounded, holis­tic work...likes bits & pieces, cross-references & rec­om­men­da­tions, frag­ments & tabs...loves the fact that you’re read­ing this post in Google Reader...iPad looks to me like a focus machine...such an oppor­tu­nity for sto­ry­telling, & for inno­va­tion around sto­ry­telling...oppor­tu­nity to make the Myst of 2010...con­nect the dots. For all its power & flex­i­bil­ity, the web is really bad at pre­sent­ing bounded, holis­tic work in a focused, immer­sive way. This is why web shows never worked. The web is bad at con­tain­ers...bad at frames... the young Hayao Miyaza­kis & Mark Z. Danielewskis & Edward Goreys of this world ought to be learn­ing Objective-C—or at least mak­ing some new friends. Because this new device gives us the power and flex­i­bil­ity to real­ize a whole new class of crazy vision—and it puts that vision in a frame. ... In five years, the coolest stuff on the iPad should be… jeez, you know, I think it should be art."
design  culture  storytelling  snarkmarket  blogging  journalism  robinsloan  immersion  epub  content  ipad  marketing  attention  future  books  change  multimedia  apple  media  innovation  2010  focus  singletasking  multitasking  epublishing  digitalpublishing  epubs  monotasking 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Futurist Richard Watson's predictions for 2010 - Speakers Corner
"Constant partial stupidity ... Digital isolation ... Hunger for shared experiences ... Flight to the physical ... Expecting less ... Conspicuous non-consumption ... Unsupervised adults ... Localism ... Re-sourcing ... Fear fatigue" + "Ten things on the way out: Dining rooms, Letter writing on paper, Paper statements and bills, Optimism about the future, Individual responsibility, Intimacy, Humility, Concentration, Retirement, Privacy"
future  libraries  predictions  2010  richardwatson  fear  human  multitasking  conspicuousconsumption  consumption  frugality  outsourcing  localism  isolation  social  twitter  sharedexperience  physical  books  distraction  attention  non-consumption  postconsumerism  re-sourcing  paper  optimism  responsibility  safety  health  comfort  greed  loneliness  via:TheLibrarianEdge 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Portrait of a Multitasking Mind: Scientific American
"People often think of the ability to multitask as a positive attribute, to the degree that they will proudly tout their ability to multitask. Likewise it’s not uncommon to see job advertisements that place “ability to multitask” at the top of their list of required abilities. Technologies such as smartphones cater to this idea that we can (and should) maximize our efficiency by getting things done in parallel with each other. Why aren’t you paying your bills and checking traffic while you’re driving and talking on the phone with your mother? However, new research by EyalOphir, Clifford Nass, and Anthony D. Wagner at Stanford University suggests that people who multitask suffer from a problem: weaker self-control ability."
multitasking  concentration  accountability  science  psychology  learning  education  productivity  brain  attention  evolution  brainscience  neuroscience  creativity  research  business  cognition  information 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Rough Type: Nicholas Carr's Blog: Hypermultitasking
"There’s evidence that, as Howard Rheingold suggests, we can train ourselves to be better multitaskers, to shift our attention even more swiftly and fluidly among contending chores and stimuli. And that will surely help us navigate the fast-moving stream of modern life. But improving our ability to multitask, neuroscience tells us in no uncertain terms, will never return to us the depth of understanding that comes with attentive, singleminded thought. You can improve your agility at multitasking, but you will never be able to multitask and engage in deep thought at the same time."
multitasking  attention  singletasking  howardrheingold  nicholascarr  monotasking 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Patricia Greenfield on Media, Multitasking & Education « Neurons Firing
"She related an experiment done with college students where they viewed CNN news broadcasts with and without the news crawl going across the screen. It turned out that the students retained more of the news when there was no crawl. I asked my 18 and a half year old about the news crawl, and he said he finds it highly distracting, as do I. (Has anyone in the States noticed the number of highway gas station stops that now have large television screens playing at the pumps? I find them highly distracting and irritating!) I was particularly interested in Greenfield’s comment that “reading counteracts the cognitive cost of media multitasking”, and that “out-of-class reading during the college years is a statistical predictor of critical thinking skills.” This made me wonder about reading in general, and how secondary schools tend to assign so much content area reading that there is precious little time for students to read for the pure joy of reading."
reading  tcsnmy  multitasking  education  deschooling  unschooling  lcproject  learning  criticalthinking  via:hrheingold  patriciagreenfield 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Multi-tasking Adversely Affects Brain's Learning, UCLA Psychologists Report
"Multi-tasking affects the brain's learning systems, and as a result, we do not learn as well when we are distracted, UCLA psychologists report this week in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."
multitasking  distraction  teaching  psychology  learning  education  cognition  research  brain  memory  via:hrheingold 
october 2009 by robertogreco
The Mediocre Multitasker - NYTimes.com
“Initially suspecting that multitaskers possessed some rare and enviable qualities that helped them process simultaneous channels of information, Professor Nass had been ‘in awe of them,’ he said, acknowledging that he himself is ‘dreadful’ at multitasking. ‘I was sure they had some secret ability. But it turns out that high multitaskers are suckers for irrelevancy’ … ‘The core of the problem,’ Professor Nass said, is that the multitaskers ‘think they’re great at what they do; and they’ve convinced everybody else they’re good at it, too’.”
multitasking  myth  confidence  psychology  research  productivity 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Brain Rules: The brain cannot multitask
"Multitasking, when it comes to paying attention, is a myth. The brain naturally focuses on concepts sequentially, one at a time. At first that might sound confusing; at one level the brain does multitask. You can walk and talk at the same time. Your brain controls your heartbeat while you read a book. Pianists can play a piece with left hand and right hand simultaneously. Surely this is multitasking. But I am talking about the brain’s ability to pay attention. It is the resource you forcibly deploy while trying to listen to a boring lecture at school. It is the activity that collapses as your brain wanders during a tedious presentation at work. This attentional ability is not capable of multitasking."
multitasking  brain  attention  productivity  brainrules  concentration  science  research  cognition  concepts  continuouspartialattention  distraction  myths  single 
august 2009 by robertogreco
Driven to Distraction - In 2003, U.S. Withheld Data Showing Cellphone Driving Risks - Series - NYTimes.com
"That letter said that hands-free headsets did not eliminate the serious accident risk. The reason: a cellphone conversation itself, not just holding the phone, takes drivers’ focus off the road, studies showed.
multitasking  psychology  distraction  attention  driving  texting  mobile  phones  cognition  publichealth  safety 
july 2009 by robertogreco
The Long Now Blog » We are programmed to be interrupted.
"An ‘attention-deficient’ society obsessed with staying on top of things is a society that is stuck in the orientation phase of attention, makes snap judgments and is subject to the whims of cognitive shortcuts."

[Contrast with response from Mind Hacks: http://www.mindhacks.com/blog/2009/02/the_myth_of_the_conc.html ]
attention  continuouspartialattention  multitasking  singletasking  productivity  longnow  science  psychology  internet  socialmedia  culture  society  brain  change  adaptation  maggiejackson  technology  distraction  monotasking 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Multitasking is the fastest way to mediocrity - (37signals)
"I’m not complaining, I’m just observing. And the primary observation that comes out of all this is that multitasking is the fastest way to mediocrity. Things suck when you don’t give them your full attention.

I’m not thrilled with the work I’ve been doing lately.

This isn’t a breakthrough, it’s just a reminder. If you want to do great work, focus on one thing at a time. Finish it and move on to the next thing. It means some things aren’t going to get done as fast as some people may want. It means some people aren’t going to get your full attention for a while. But doing a bunch of crappy work, or making a bunch of poorly considered decisions just to get through the pile isn’t worth it."
multitasking  singletasking  continuouspartialattention  productivity  process  success  37signals  monotasking 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Mind Hacks: The myth of the concentration oasis
"New technology has not created some sort of unnatural cyber-world, but is just moving us away from a relatively short blip of focus that pervaded parts of the Western world for probably about 50 years at most.

And when we compare the level of stress and distraction it causes in comparison to the life of the average low-tech family, it's nothing. It actually allows us to focus, because it makes things less urgent, it controls the consequences and allows us to suffer no more than social indignation if we don't respond immediately.

The past, and for most people on the planet, the present, have never been an oasis of mental calm and creativity. And anyone who thinks they have it hard because people keep emailing them should trying bringing up a room of kids with nothing but two pairs of hands and a cooking pot."
distraction  attention  history  perspective  luddism  technology  children  mobile  phones  myths  concentration  infooverload  mindhacks  singletasking  psychology  pedagogy  science  internet  productivity  parenting  brain  twitter  society  flow  focus  leisure  continuouspartialattention  maggiejackson  culture  multitasking  monotasking 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Caterina.net: Singletasking
"Sent to me by my friend David Kidder, and guiding my workdays, as much as possible. I'm not sure where it's from."

[Linkrot, so try Wayback: http://web.archive.org/web/20120119210114/http://caterina.net/archive/001158.html ]
via:preoccupations  multitasking  singletasking  discipline  attention  management  gtd  flow  productivity  work  email  life  distraction  continuouspartialattention  monotasking 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Digital Overload Is Frying Our Brains | Wired Science from Wired.com
"Paying attention isn't a simple act of self-discipline, but a cognitive ability with deep neurobiological roots — and this complex faculty, says Maggie Jackson, is being woefully undermined by how we're living.

In Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age, Jackson explores the effects of "our high-speed, overloaded, split-focus and even cybercentric society" on attention. It's not a pretty picture: a never-ending stream of phone calls, e-mails, instant messages, text messages and tweets is part of an institutionalized culture of interruption, and makes it hard to concentrate and think creatively. Of course, every modern age is troubled by its new technologies. "The telegraph might have done just as much to the psyche [of] Victorians as the Blackberry does to us," said Jackson. "But at the same time, that doesn't mean that nothing has changed. The question is, how do we confront our own challenges?" Wired.com talked to Jackson about attention and its loss."
education  technology  attention  multitasking  singletasking  continuouspartialattention  overload  infooverload  brain  twitter  gtd  computers  productivity  creativity  psychology  memory  distraction  culture  society  neuroscience  stress  maggiejackson  monotasking 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Wiki:this very short warning | Social Media CoLab
"This is definitely related to the mindfulness-about-laptops-in-class issue. The technology has leaped ahead of social norms -- the ways we integrate social processes like college courses with media like Wi-Fi. So I'm interested -- as you should be -- in finding what the advantages and dangers of unfettered use of laptops during class meetings are, then exploring ways to leverage the advantages and avoid the dangers. My hypothesis, formulated inductively by experimenting with four previous classes, is that it's a mixture of attention-training (just as note-taking is a form of attention-training) and social norms (if most people put their laptop away most of the time, when they aren't using it to look up something class-related, then most people will be able to Facebook, email, or Twitter part of the time). So there is a collective action social dilemma involved, akin to the tragedy of the commons. Individual self-interest, if aggregated enough, can act counter to the interests of all."
learning  laptops  society  etiquette  teaching  information  multitasking  attention  pedagogy  overload  filtering  via:preoccupations  newmedia  flow  time  rss  gtd  socialmedia 
january 2009 by robertogreco
Productivity 2.0: How the New Rules of Work Are Changing the Game | Zen Habits
"1. Don’t Crank - Work With Deeper Focus. 2. Toss Out Meetings and Planning — Just Start. 3. Paperwork is out — automate with technology. 4. Don’t multi-task — multi-project and single-task. 5. Produce less, not more. 6. Forget about organization — use technology. 7. Out with hierarchies — in with freedom. 8. Work fewer hours, not more."
work  workplace  management  administration  leadership  focus  multitasking  singletasking  planning  meetings  efficiency  paperless  organization  productivity  qualityoflife  monotasking 
october 2008 by robertogreco
Tough Choices: How Making Decisions Tires Your Brain: Scientific American
"It turns out, however, that use of executive function—a talent we all rely on throughout the day—draws upon a single resource of limited capacity in the brain. When this resource is exhausted by one activity, our mental capacity may be severely hinde
psychology  brain  science  health  productivity  decisions  decisionmaking  behavior  pedagogy  education  neuroscience  multitasking  consumerism 
july 2008 by robertogreco
The New Atlantis » The Myth of Multitasking
"When people do their work only in the “interstices of their mind-wandering,” with crumbs of attention rationed out among many competing tasks, their culture may gain in information, but it will surely weaken in wisdom."
multitasking  continuouspartialattention  attention  culture  learning  brain  psychology  productivity  neuroscience 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Is Multitasking More Efficient?
"Is Multitasking More Efficient? Shifting mental gears costs time, especially when shifting to less familiar tasks"
via:hrheingold  multitasking  productivity  psychology  lifehacks  continuouspartialattention  focus  performance  attention 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Scientific American: About Us: Press Releases
"However They May Not Be More Productive: Nearly Six Out of Ten Agree They're "Busier" But Often Feel Like They Get Less Done"
via:hrheingold  attention  multitasking  psychology  productivity  continuouspartialattention  research  technology 
june 2008 by robertogreco
7 Habits Essential for Tackling the Multitasking Virus | Zen Habits
"1. Do what you love. 2. Do it in a way you love and connect to. 3. Give people a Choice and they become engaged. 4. Release a fear of failure. 5. Build positive routines. 6. Do one thing at a time. 7. Take Breaks."
schools  teaching  learning  attention  multitasking  continuouspartialattention  engagement  society  technology  organization  productivity  habits  teens  youth  colleges  universities 
june 2008 by robertogreco
The Myth of Multitasking
"According to Brain Rules by John Medina, multi-tasking is a myth...multitaskers will take twice as long to accomplish task and they’ll have twice the error rate of single taskers."

[see also: http://youtube.com/watch?v=xO_oEGHWSMU ]

[ http://brainrules.blogspot.com/2008/03/brain-cannot-multitask_16.html ]
johnmedina  multitasking  singletasking  continuouspartialattention  productivity  brain  research  learning  attention  monotasking 
june 2008 by robertogreco
The Art of Zen Living » Singletasking
"[Multitasking] usually means is the ability to have several things going on at once, none of which get done as well as they should, and some of them get left half finished and forgotten."
singletasking  multitasking  continuouspartialattention  simplicity  slow  monotasking 
may 2008 by robertogreco
reboot10 - Singletasking for Multitaskers
"This will give us insights into some things specifically human: A perspective onto what consciousness is, how our mind works and who we are."
singletasking  multitasking  continuouspartialattention  simplicity  slow  monotasking 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Disconnecting Distraction
"Eventually, though, it became clear that the Internet had become so much more distracting that I had to start treating it differently. Basically, I had to add a new application to my list of known time sinks: Firefox."
gtd  paulgraham  addiction  productivity  procrastination  tips  advice  learning  lifehacks  discipline  technology  television  tv  multitasking  psychology  attention  management  work  distraction  add  adhd  internet  concentration  information 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Tips For Dealing With Information Overload
"I sent a couple of people the following question: “What are your top tips for dealing with information overflow?” Here are some of their answers"
information  productivity  overload  attention  informationmanagement  hacks  multitasking  infooverload  GTD  lifehacks 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Internet Evolution - Cory Doctorow - The Pleasures of Uninterrupted Communication
"You'd think that I ran some kind of IM in the background, and picked up the phone a dozen times a day to chat...You'd be wrong. But once you add an interruptive medium like IM, unscheduled calls, or pop-up notifiers of mail, flow turns into chop."
attention  communication  email  internet  overload  productivity  emailapnea  continuouspartialattention  alwayson  flow  technology  GTD  corydoctorow  online  writing  multitasking  im  addiction  culture  information  mobile  work  web 
march 2008 by robertogreco
The Autumn of the Multitaskers
"Neuroscience is confirming what we all suspect: Multitasking is dumbing us down and driving us crazy. One man’s odyssey through the nightmare of infinite connectivity"
multitasking  continuouspartialattention  attention  psychology  neuroscience  behavior  brain  cognition  cognitive  concentration  memory  connectivity  culture  society  stress  productivity  education  learning  lifehacks  slow  mind  organization  theatlantic  technology  recession  trends  bubbles  mobile  phones  distraction  etiquette  economics  freedom  simplicity  digitalnatives 
january 2008 by robertogreco
adaptive path » blog » Todd Wilkens » My personal war against Crackberry
"I thought I’d share a few tips I’ve picked up for getting people to put down their Crackberries and actually do some work."
meetings  productivity  business  attention  multitasking  continuouspartialattention  administration  management  organizations  etiquette  leadership 
november 2007 by robertogreco
43F Podcast: The Myth of Multi-tasking | 43 Folders
"43Folders.com - “Multi-taskers” are really just splitting their time and attention into smaller slices than you; no one can really do more than one thing at a time."
multitasking  continuouspartialattention  management  attention  productivity  etiquette  human  focus 
november 2007 by robertogreco
Keep Your Food, Change Your Plate: The New Science of Eating on Wired Science
"Brian Wansink is no new-age diet doctor. He's the Director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell, where a funhouse of one-way mirrors helps him spy into the hidden psychology behind Americans' prodigious food intake."
diet  eating  food  nutrition  psychology  research  habits  health  multitasking 
october 2007 by robertogreco
Jan Chipchase - Future Perfect: The Selfish Toothbrush
"Which is why the electric toothbrush is a selfish object - it demands to be held the whole time it is used and the alternative that works with regular tooth brushes - to be clasped in the mouth for those moments when you need both hands is not an option.
iphone  n800  usability  nokia  design  industrial  ux  multitasking  toothbrushes  janchipchase  ergonomics  satellite 
june 2007 by robertogreco
CBC News In Depth: Technology:Are cellphones and the internet rewiring our brains?
"Before making assumptions of addictive behaviour, you should know there's a positive side to switching tasks often. You may actually be training your brain to become faster and stronger."
attention  multitasking  continuouspartialattention  brain  development  society 
june 2007 by robertogreco
Open the Future: Augmented Fluid Intelligence
"Eventually, we'll hit a ceiling in the ways in which we can improve our fluid intelligence naturally."
multitasking  continuouspartialattention  ai  automation  cognition  complexity  communication  twitter  futurism  future  information  intelligence  attention  work  society 
may 2007 by robertogreco
Slow Down, Multitaskers; Don’t Read in Traffic - New York Times
"Several research reports, both recently published and not yet published, provide evidence of the limits of multitasking. The findings, according to neuroscientists, psychologists and management professors, suggest that many people would be wise to curb t
multitasking  concentration  brain  neuroscience  psychology  work  technology  society  safety  continuouspartialattention 
march 2007 by robertogreco
Locus Online Features: Cory Doctorow: You <i>Do</i> Like Reading Off a Computer Screen
"A super-sharp, super-portable screen would be used to read all day long, but most of us won't spend most of our time reading anything recognizable as a book on them."
attention  books  novels  computers  copyright  technology  culture  fiction  future  futurism  interface  internet  literature  media  writing  web  reading  publishing  multitasking  ebooks 
march 2007 by robertogreco
3pointD.com » Blog Archive » SXSW Xcript: Joi Ito and Justin Hall
"The US is an anomally from the rest of the world because they don’t treat children and play seriously...This whole barrier between play and work is an American thing. In Japan or Euopre you’re always online when youre walking around, it’s like cybe
flow  games  play  narrative  children  multitasking  twitter  sms  text  messaging  japan  europe  us  constraints  conversation  work  learning  culture 
march 2007 by robertogreco
Marketplace: A better brand of business travel
"Commentator Lucy Kellaway suggests opening a new virtual airline where business travelers could get all the benefits of flying without the hassles."
travel  continuouspartialattention  multitasking  work  business  interruptions  society  focus  airlines  flights 
march 2007 by robertogreco
Teens Can Multitask, But What Are Costs? - washingtonpost.com
"Researchers say there isn't any answer yet to whether multitasking helps, hurts or has no effect on teens' development."
attention  brain  cognition  multitasking  continuouspartialattention  learning  teens  reading  media  mind  research 
february 2007 by robertogreco
BBC NEWS | Health | 'Bottleneck' slows brain activity
"US researchers have discovered a likely reason why people find it hard to do two things at once."
cognitive  research  science  brain  neuroscience  mobile  phones  multitasking  continuouspartialattention  attention 
january 2007 by robertogreco
Creating Passionate Users: The Asymptotic Twitter Curve
"The brain scientists now tell us that becoming an expert is not a matter of being a prodigy, it's a matter of being able to focus."
time  management  focus  intelligence  work  distraction  twitter  online  internet  rss  socialsoftware  socialnetworks  social  software  web  networking  networks  technology  multitasking  continuouspartialattention  attention  blogs  email  etiquette  locative  stress  productivity  kathysierra 
december 2006 by robertogreco
Underwhelmed by It All - Los Angeles Times
"Mark, who has studied multi-tasking by 25- to 35-year-old high-tech workers, believes that the group is not much different from 12- to 24-year-olds, since the two groups grew up with similar technology. She frets that "a pattern of constant interruption"
attention  multitasking  work  productivity  psychology  technology  internet  concentration  entertainment  continuouspartialattention 
october 2006 by robertogreco
collision detection: Study pinpoints the limits of multitasking
"Here's a neat bit of mind-hack research: A couple of psychologists have found that multitasking is easier to do if the various streams streams of info you're trying to monitor arrive in different modes."
interface  psychology  multitasking  technology  attention  work  productivity  society  continuouspartialattention 
september 2006 by robertogreco
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