This is your brain on technology.

Back on track with something interesting for you to think about, beyond just “what is Brian doing right now, at this very exact moment”, although i know that captivates and amazes you to no end.

Today’s link-to-discuss is from the Seattle Times, a torrid rag of a paper that seems determined to deliver sunday issues to me incessantly despite my protest (i have neither the time nor inclination to read it and don’t like to see things wasted), and which occasionally spews forth something of contentious value. Such as this piece that, despite being somewhat long (i skimmed a bit, i must admit) got me thinking. After you’ve read it, you’ll find it funny and/or ironic that i thought the article was too long and skimmed it.

Anyway, this UW prof, David Levy, is researching what all this beeping, buzzing, yammering technology is doing to our brains, and more importantly, what we’re letting it do to our brains as we attempt to deal with it all. He predicts we might be entering the next phase of our information age, where we begin to realize (as a society) that just because we can be reached by cell at every remote corner of the world doesn’t mean we should, and just because it only takes a few seconds for an email to cross a continent doesn’t mean we are required to read it with that same immediacy. Despite what we may think of ourselves, our brains are not great at multitasking, but as our world has made that more possible we’ve adopted it as our new mantra, and we spend more time doing more things instead of less time doing the same things.

It’s not the technology to blame, it’s our philosophical approach to the technology. We feel like because there is an opportunity to accomplish more in a day, that (as the length of the day has not changed) we should assign ourselves more action items and promise more of ourselves to others. Instead of achieving the same per day as we did before and retiring early to relish our new technological efficiency, we push ourselves a little harder every day. The UC-Irvine study’s 12-minute maximum concentration period sounds about right for the modern workplace; i think mine is significantly less than that. It usually takes me more than an hour to compose something to share with you all, and that’s not for lack of something to say (i think we all know i rarely fall short of words). It’s because something beeps or flashes, or somebody knocks, or Ian says completely out of the blue “hey, what’s that?” or “wow, what’s going on there?” and calls my attention to something i was otherwise happily ignoring.

So if you haven’t already, go read the article, and think about that the next time you’re checking your web forums in the middle of the night or desperately trying to find an internet connection on vacation. It’s OK if you skim a bit; those of us in the “thumb generation” have remarkably short attention spans.

There’s always room for pudding.

I think my brain is getting softer. Maybe cause i never use it, other than to remember song lyrics or attempt clever comeback remarks. I mean, it’s not like i use it at work, right? And commuting is pretty mindless, just stay between the lines – something i should have mastered in kindergarten. Even when i have a flat tire – and I’ve had two this week, one on each vehicle. I’ve also spent a lot of time the last couple of weeks moving boxes, packing boxes, unpacking boxes, taping boxes, trying not to drown in styrofoam peanuts and shredded paper – none of which were particularly mentally demanding. I think the most intellectually stimulating things i’ve done all month are watch CSI and try to hack Sims2 to let me use clothing from different categories. I succeeded at that, by the way – Danielle and i have made several Sims who are wearing their swimsuits as everyday clothes, or otherwise cheating the rules of their digital universe. So with very little keeping those neurons firing, i think they’re getting lazy – as lazy as the rest of me – and my brain is turning into pudding. And not a good kind either – probably tapioca or something equally hideous.

I have officially moved to Edmonds. It’s a nice neighborhood so far, although i forgot that i was going to be starting over finding nearby services and all those handy places i was used to in west seattle. Kim and i spent a whole day last week cleaning the old house, and were quite happy to be rid of the place by the time we’d realized all the dirt and broken stuff that was revealed when we removed the furniture. Still trying to meet with the landlord for closing paperwork – she’s now on my “gets a call every day until this mess is over” list.

Danielle has been a huge help with all the moving madness – helping me pack and unpack, lending me her car – and just generally being super patient with my less-than-occasional exasperated, frustrated and frantic moments. She’s a saint and i owe her a huge debt of gratitude. I wish i could give her something amazing for Christmas. I have 21 more days to win the lottery.

Now i’m going to go play Domo Kun Smashfest and daydream about donning my own giant Domo Kun outfit and having a smashfest at work…