Thursday, May 21, 2009

An Article on Distraction

From an article by Sam Anderson:
Back in 1971, when the web was still twenty years off and the smallest computers were the size of delivery vans, before the founders of Google had even managed to get themselves born, the polymath economist Herbert A. Simon wrote maybe the most concise possible description of our modern struggle: “What information consumes is rather obvious: It consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.” As beneficiaries of the greatest information boom in the history of the world, we are suffering, by Simon’s logic, a correspondingly serious poverty of attention.
I recommend reading the full article (if you can, eh!).

(I had written about distraction long back, in a flow of angst about the human condition, and have written about it (a little peripherally though) recently as well.)

1 comment:

Change said...

I think, the term Attantion and Distraction are used in the article with respect to the thought process. But Attention is some thing entirly different from thought process.

Also the term Multitasking is used in this article with respect to multiple threads of thought process and not the real tasks. Thought process is an unwanted action happens with in our brain - unwanted except the time when the thought process is connected with some real task.

We can do any task if and only if we have the knowledge of that task- either experiencial knowledge or theoretical knowledge. On the other hand, we have the procedure of that task in our memory. Hence we do not need any extraordinary thought process to perform that task, if we know how to be free from thoughts. What we need is a simple memory retrival process where the attention on that task can retrive from the memory - which we may consider as a simple thought process.

What the article says as distraction is again thought process, which is some thing away and opposite from the thought process mentioned as attention. Hence distraction is just a form of escape from what is needed. Or when our mind is engaged and carried over by one thought process, we need an escape from that by means of another thought process.

According to me, (My experience during my trial on the subject of attention, at least for a very short duration) attention means absense of thought. There can not be any limit to the number of happenings arround us to which our attention can be given.

There is a limitation to our capability on multitasking (I am not indicating multitasking in terms of multiple thought process, which is not at all a required task)with repect to our physical nature. With in that limitation, our brain/mind can perform multitasking effitiently, I feel.