Sunday, March 26, 2006

plato warned us

I just caught up on last week's Time cover story about "the multitasking generation". You've heard it before: kids sitting in front of their computers, doing their homework, IMing three friends, listening to iTunes and cooking a six course meal. The tales of families who are so absorbed in technology are a little sad, but I'll admit that I am impressed that kids are apparently putting together PowerPoint presentations for their Christmas wish lists.

Those same kids are probably snickering about all of the hullabaloo that adults are making about the technology that has come to define their generation. In fact, there's a great paragraph in the article about this clash.

"Every generation of adults sees new technology -- and the social changes it stirs -- as a threat to the rightful order of things: Plato warned (correctly) that reading would be the downfall of oral tradition and memory. And every generation of teenagers embraces the freedoms an possibilities wrought by technology in ways that shock the elders: just think about what the automobile did for dating."

But cognitive scientists think it is more than just a bunch of parents freaking out about scary news stories about I took it to heart when I read,

"habitual multitasking may condition their brain to an overexcited state, making it difficult to focus even when they want to."

Last week I had two pretty damn productive days and three that bordered on useless. More often than I should probably admit, I become paralyzed with a hyperawareness of all the information out there that I need to process and act on.

Check out the article. It's worth your time. As an experiment, try doing absolutely nothing else while you're reading it.

Come on, you can do it.

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