LIKE SEVERAL OF MY COLLEAGUES, I have too many things bubbling up on my computer--all vying for attention. I try to handle all these pop-ups but there's just too much noise. People with more experience than myself say there will be an "attention crash" smacking into the workplace and it's going to hurt. It's going to affect our ability to think in private and to collaborate effectively. We just cannot keep working effectively if the flow of inputs keeps accelerating. As humans, we cannot manage a crescendo of attention-grabbing tasks. As Steve Rubel said more than a year ago, "Human attention does not obey Moore's Law." After letting a tweeting Twitterstream impact my workday for eight consecutive months, I need therapy. I want to return to the point where I can write and respond in a timely fashion to email. I need to serve student requests within a day of their surfacing on our virtual education system.
The Irish road personality George Hook wants to talk about these things on air when he brings his show to the streets of Limerick in early September. Just outside his perch on O'Connell Street is O'Mahony's book shop where George could buy The 4-Hour Workweek and receive guidance on how to combat attention stress. He could also take some comfort in the advice of Gina Trapani and apply the 80/20 principle to his life. It means ruthlessly culling parts of the electronic flow that hits you like waves lapping on Killiney beach. It means deleting mail without opening it and also spending time to push important mail directly to the main focus of your daily life.
I can feel the pleas of students concerning their attention spans. They don't want to feel the pain of my overloaded information management. They want me to ensure they aren't sprayed with a fire hose of information so they can focus on important items and maybe, just maybe, find some time for grazing in their academic environment.
Steve Rubel -- "The Attention Crash"
The graphics comes from Marc Andreessen’s blog and represents the findings of researchers as related by Frans Johansson in The Medici Effect.
Marc Andreessen -- "Short Attention Span Theater"
Timothy Ferris -- The 4-Hour Workweek ISBN 978-0307353139
Gina Trapani -- "How to apply the 80/20 rule to your life"
Bonus Link: Lifestreams affected by attention issues with Neville Hobson.