Monday, November 23, 2009

shrinking attention span

It was very easy for me to identify with Robert Carr's, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" My journey into stupidity begins with Personal Data Assistants. Before PDA's I was able to sit through long meetings with a notepad and take notes, I wouldn't always be paying attention but it looked like I was. When I got a PDA I would sit in those same meetings and take notes on the PDA and still only pay attention 50% of the time. As PDA technology improved I would take notes until there was a subject that didn't concern me and during that part of the meeting I would play games. Over time this taking notes and occasionally playing games changed into mostly playing games. I don't know if this was a change in my attitude towards meetings (99% of what is said can be conveyed in one paragraph in an e-mail) or if this attitude towards meetings was partially driven by my PDA. I'm sure the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

The question is whether or not my multitasking and my new inability to concentrate for extended periods of time was an indication that I was becoming stupid. I can't honestly say that I took as much information from the meetings as I had in the past but I did take away 90% of the information and that information was easier for me to retrieve. The information was memorized instead of hiding somewhere in my notes that would never be looked at again. I have become far better at splitting my consciousness, I can retain information and surf the web at the same time. In fact I was able to enhance what I was learning in those meetings by going online or on the companies interweb and supplementing what I was being told with additional information. I was getting more out of meetings than I had in the past. My ability to sit motionless and pretend I was listening was severely limited but my ability to listen to what was being said was enhanced. Before, if a meeting covered 30 minutes of information that didn't have anything to do with me by the time the important information was disseminated I was so far into daydream mode that many times I did not catch it. With the invention of the PDA I played games for the first 30 minutes and was fresh when the important information came around.

This is all anecdotal evidence in support of what Carr said but it is what I have seen in my own life. I am not sure that I'm getting stupider but I do know that everything has changed.

6 comments:

  1. Isn't that something for literacy. All of this time, the only PDA I've known is for Public Display of Affection.
    Anywho, I definitely don't think you're stupid or getting "stupider" to say the least. I do think that when we're not consumed by things we should be focused on, (such as your boss in a meeting or your professor in class), our minds tend to venture off to what we want to do at the moment as opposed to what we need to do. If anything, Google and PDA's are making us lazy. Technology now has the capability of doing things that we have always been obligated to do but didn't "feel" like doing. Honestly there are a lot of times when I appear to be attentive and it's not that I'm not, but our mind is always moving and thinking about so many other things we need or want to do.

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  2. Well they say necessity is the mother of invention. It is possible that necessity is the mother of focus as well. Maybe, it was because you knew you could play games and still be successful in the workplace that led you to take that risk. I'm sure if you knew your job depended on hanging onto every word at a meeting, it would be a different story.

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  5. I wouldn't always be paying attention but it looked like I was. When I got a PDA I would sit in those same meetings and take notes on the PDA and still only pay attention 50% of the time. As PDA technology improved I would take notes until there was a subject that didn't concern me and during that part of the meeting I would play games. Over time this taking notes and occasionally playing games changed into mostly playing games. buyrealiglikes.com/buy-instagram-small-likes/

    ReplyDelete