Levy: Digital Distractions Bad for the Workplace - Newsweek Technology - MSNBC.com
Steven Levy on continuous partial attention and "The Attention Economy" at ORA's Emerging Technology Conference.
But there's a problem in the workplace when the interruptions intrude on tasks that require real concentration or quiet reflection. And there's an even bigger problem when our bubble of connectedness stretches to ensnare us no matter where we are. A live BlackBerry or even a switched-on mobile phone is an admission that your commitment to your current activity is as fickle as Renée Zellweger's wedding vows. Your world turns into a never-ending cocktail party where you're always looking over your virtual shoulder for a better conversation partner. The anxiety is contagious: anyone who winds up talking to a person infected with [continuous partial attention] feels like he or she is accepting an Oscar, and at any moment the music might stop the speech.
In her talk, Stone was careful to acknowledge the benefits of perpetual contact. But her message is that the balance has tilted way too far toward distraction, creating a sense of constant crisis. "We're not ever in a place where we can make a commitment to anything," she explained to me when I called her a few days later. "Constantly being accessible makes you inaccessible." All so true.
I have to concur on the ironic hilarity of an ETech ostensibly being devoted to the topic of "The Attention Economy." As someone who's been both on the dais and down in the pit, I don't think I've ever seen so many overstimulated people struggling to find even more stimulation. It's harrowing.
[ via the 43F Board ]