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43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

NYT: BlackBerry outage about more than missed information

BlackBerry - Research in Motion - Technology - Smartphones - Cell Phones - New York Times

An article in yesterday's New York Times suggests that the upshot of last week's BlackBerry outage may be about more than just an annoying communication outage -- for some, it was a flop-sweat-inducing night of cold turkey.

“It’s random reinforcement,” Mr. Katz said. The fact that you don’t know when important news will come, he said, “means you will quickly engage in obsessive compulsive behavior.”

These social needs and yearnings may drive the use. But at some point, that use becomes an end unto itself — a physical ritual that can take on some of the qualities of actual addiction, said Dr. John Ratey, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard, where he specializes in neuropsychiatry.

Several years ago, Mr. Ratey began using the term “acquired attention deficit disorder” to describe the condition of people who are accustomed to a constant stream of digital stimulation and feel bored in the absence of it. Regardless of whether the stimulation is from the Internet, TV or a cellphone, the brain, he said, is hijacked.

Sure, I kid the BlackBerry addicts, but I do sympathize. Left to my own devices, I'd check email a hundred times a day and can still half-ruin a vacation with the constant need to "just check in." Electronic fiddling is a lot like tobacco addiction and a lot easier to get away with nowadays.

About Merlin

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Merlin Mann is an independent writer, speaker, and broadcaster. He’s best known for being the guy who created the website you’re reading right now. He lives in San Francisco, does lots of public speaking, and helps make cool things like You Look Nice Today, Back to Work, and Kung Fu Grippe. Also? He’s writing this book, he lives with this face, he suffers from this hair, he answers these questions, and he’s had this life. So far.

Merlin’s favorite thing he’s written in the past few years is an essay entitled, “Cranking.”




An Oblique Strategy:
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Merlin used to crank. He’s not cranking any more.

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