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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Continuous Partial Attention

Does it seem like all your friends have ADD these days? Perhaps their behavior can be attributed to changes in our society. Linda Stone, formerly of Apple and Microsoft, coined the term Continuous Partial Attention to describe life in the era of e-mail, instant messaging, cell phones, etc. "We keep the top level item in focus and scan the periphery in case something more important emerges." But she goes on to say that we are "over-stimulated, over-wound, unfulfilled." I agree.

Here are some of my observations of continuous partial attention. Someone has annoyed me (and I am sure you too) doing these...
  • Using a blackberry or laptop during the business meeting
  • Switching over to call waiting several times during a phone call
  • Driving poorly while using a cell phone
  • Responding to an email, but only reading a small portion of it (don't answer questions or ask questions about things already answered)
  • Typing things that don't make sense because they are IM'ing with several people at the same time
We need to wake ourselves from this trance and make changes to how we utilize technology.
  • Recognize things that are important to you and give them your full attention.
  • Don't be a slave to technology. Don't always answer the phone. Reduce time spent on email.
  • Use face-to-face time and phone calls more, instead of emails.

That really...what was I saying?

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