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.