Overload, Shmoverload


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Overload, Shmoverload

  1. 1. Overload, Shmoverload Stowe Boyd [email_address] +1 703 966 9854 625 2nd St, San Francisco CA 94107
  2. 2. Re: Me <ul><li>Editor, /Message </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Always beginning, never finished&quot; </li></ul>
  3. 3. Questions <ul><li>Is communication (information) overload driving us crazy? </li></ul><ul><li>If this isn’t crazy, what is it? </li></ul><ul><li>How to avoid going crazy = going crazy in a rational way </li></ul><ul><li>Is attention a resource? </li></ul><ul><li>Is attention an economic factor? </li></ul>
  4. 4. Participants Goals <ul><li>Why are you here? </li></ul>
  5. 5. Apologies and Explanations <ul><li>It was blogging what done this to me </li></ul><ul><li>Fragments, conjectures, cheap shots, biases </li></ul><ul><li>No pretty box with a bow </li></ul><ul><li>“ Speak what you feel, not what you ought to say.” William Shakespeare, King Lear </li></ul>
  6. 6. Information Overload <ul><li>Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock </li></ul>
  7. 7. Are We Being Driven Crazy? <ul><li>Or is it something else? </li></ul><ul><li>Are we learning to cope? </li></ul><ul><li>Are we at the dawn of a new era? </li></ul><ul><li>What sort of accommodations are humanly possible? </li></ul>
  8. 8. Another Failed Metaphor <ul><li>Most attempts to treat aspects of human cognition in economic or industrial terms fail miserably (e.g., knowledge management) </li></ul>
  9. 9. Attention economy/scarcity <ul><li>“ What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention” Herbert Simon </li></ul><ul><li>“ The scarcest resource for today's business leaders is no longer just land, capital, or human labor, and it certainly isn't information. Attention is what's in short supply.” Thomas H. Davenport and John C. Beck </li></ul>
  10. 10. Psychology of Attention <ul><li>Attention is not a single cognitive center, it may be an emergent property of several </li></ul><ul><li>Basically, we don’t know what it is </li></ul><ul><li>And conventional wisdom is likely to be wrong </li></ul><ul><li>Especially the authors of best-selling business books, who largely advance agendas that (hypothetically) serve the goals of business, not people or society </li></ul>
  11. 11. Attention Deficit Disorder <ul><li>Inability to focus </li></ul><ul><li>Hyperactivity </li></ul><ul><li>Treated (paradoxically) with stimulants </li></ul><ul><li>Is our culture creating ADD in children? </li></ul><ul><li>Linked to video games, watching television, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Is today’s childhood toxic? </li></ul>
  12. 12. Linear Education in a Non-linear Today? <ul><li>Maybe our cultural institutions are too linear? </li></ul><ul><li>Perhaps we are in the process of something, and it is showing up in our young first? </li></ul><ul><li>Our relationship to media trains the neurons </li></ul><ul><li>What are we training them for? </li></ul>
  13. 13. Linda Stone: Continuous Partial Attention <ul><li>&quot;It's crucial for CEOs to be intentional about breaking free from continuous partial attention in order to get their bearings. Some of today's business books suggest that speed is the answer to today's business challenges. Pausing to reflect, focus, think a problem through; and then taking steady steps forward in an intentional direction is really the key.” </li></ul><ul><li>Linda Stone, Inc., Jan 2002 </li></ul>
  14. 14. Contrarian View <ul><li>CPA is a different kind of load-balancing algorithm. Some people think that the only practical way to work is to take a single task and grind away until it is done, and then (and only then) look around to determine what is the right next piece of work to do. The reality is that we need to be constantly scanning the horizon for events that are worthy of our attention. We can't a afford to stay heads down for hours or days at a stretch when critically important events may be occurring that could require us to immediately respond to them. </li></ul><ul><li>So, while first-in-first-out is a workable discipline for some situations (like super market check out lines), it fails drastically in some circumstances (like hospital emergency rooms). </li></ul><ul><li>Our work lives are increasingly like the ER and not the supermarket. So we will have to revert to a mindset that our earliest forebears must have applied while fashioning hunting gear, and with one eye scanning the savannah for predators and prey. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Continuous Partial Attention <ul><li>“ But there's a problem in the workplace when the interruptions intrude on tasks that require real concentration or quiet reflection. And there's an even bigger problem when our bubble of connectedness stretches to ensnare us no matter where we are. A live BlackBerry or even a switched-on mobile phone is an admission that your commitment to your current activity is as fickle as Renée Zellweger's wedding vows. Your world turns into a never-ending cocktail party where you're always looking over your virtual shoulder for a better conversation partner. The anxiety is contagious: anyone who winds up talking to a person infected with CPA feels like he or she is accepting an Oscar, and at any moment the music might stop the speech.” Steven Levy </li></ul>
  16. 16. The War On Continuous Partial Attention <ul><li>Mossberg and the D3 conference episode </li></ul><ul><li>The war on Continuous Partial Attention is on: they will maintain that it is good for us, we need to be less distracted, more focused, more productive, and ultimately, happier. But those who have shifted to a social work ethic resist. Our time is truly not our own, and in a good way. We are supported by a network of partners who will pause, give advice, offer suggestions, and then return to work. Who will take a productivity hit so that we can make headway. And who fully expect us to give back, the same way. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Connection = Dope
  18. 18. The World That IM Built <ul><li>Remaining connected is not a disease </li></ul><ul><li>It is a new ethos </li></ul><ul><li>Time is a shared space </li></ul><ul><li>And the psychology to support it is emerging </li></ul><ul><li>Conflict with industrial norms, e.g. productivity </li></ul>
  19. 19. Mulitasking Is Generational
  20. 20. The Juggler’s Paradox <ul><li>How do jugglers juggle? </li></ul><ul><li>They don’t focus on the balls, the movements </li></ul><ul><li>They unfocus into a field of attention </li></ul><ul><li>A different state of consciousness </li></ul>
  21. 21. Gaming <ul><li>What does gaming do to our neurons? </li></ul><ul><li>Better situational analysis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Keeping a number of things in a field of concentration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Making better real-time decisions based on many independent streams of information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Less likely to crash the plane </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. The Buddylist Is The Center Of The Universe <ul><li>I am made greater by the sum of my connections, and so are my connections </li></ul><ul><li>It’s mostly connections </li></ul>
  23. 23. Social = Me First <ul><li>The individual is the new group </li></ul><ul><li>Me first </li></ul><ul><ul><li>my passions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>my people </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>my markets </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Bottom-up belonging </li></ul>
  24. 24. The Dawn of a Social Age? <ul><li>Continuous partial attention is an inbuilt aspect of socialized online existence, a means to understand the world through connection. </li></ul><ul><li>The alternative to CPA is to revert back to an industrial age, one-thing-at-a-time approach to dealing with the world. That model is fine for supermarket checkout lines, but fails catastrophically in other settings, like hospital emergency rooms. </li></ul><ul><li>Continuous partial attention is a meaningful accommodation to the possibilities inherent in operating within the context of a social confederation of other minds, linked through social tools. </li></ul>
  25. 25. The New Third Place <ul><li>Ray Oldenburg </li></ul><ul><li>Third Space </li></ul><ul><li>Web Culture and The Future Of Humanity </li></ul>
  26. 26. Flow (Wikipedia entry on Csikszentmihalyi) <ul><li>Flow: a mental state when you are fully immersed in what you is doing, characterized by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. </li></ul><ul><li>Clear goals (expectations and rules are discernible). </li></ul><ul><li>Concentrating and focusing, a high degree of concentration on a limited field of attention (a person engaged in the activity will have the opportunity to focus and to delve deeply into it). </li></ul><ul><li>A loss of the feeling of self-consciousness, the merging of action and awareness. </li></ul><ul><li>Distorted sense of time - one's subjective experience of time is altered. </li></ul><ul><li>Direct and immediate feedback (successes and failures in the course of the activity are apparent, so that behavior can be adjusted as needed). </li></ul><ul><li>Balance between ability level and challenge (the activity is neither too easy nor too difficult). </li></ul><ul><li>A sense of personal control over the situation or activity. </li></ul><ul><li>The activity is intrinsically rewarding, so there is an effortlessness of action. </li></ul><ul><li>When in the flow state, people become absorbed in their activity, and focus of awareness is narrowed down to the activity itself, action awareness merging. </li></ul>
  27. 27. Non-Rivalrous Media <ul><li>Non-Rivalrous media: you can participate in more than one medium </li></ul><ul><li>Subject to age and exposure </li></ul><ul><li>Radio (post 1950s) </li></ul><ul><li>TV (post 1970s) </li></ul><ul><li>Movies (that’s why people are talking) </li></ul><ul><li>Flowing media (that’s where we are headed) </li></ul>
  28. 28. Traffic and Flow <ul><li>Social applications are -- at their basis -- a means for us to communicate. Not just point-to-point communication, as in email or in IM, but increasingly a more general communication from me to the network of others that believe that I matter. </li></ul><ul><li>We are sending all sorts of traffic -- different sorts of messages -- flowing through the various implicit and explicit social networks that we define ourselves through, and through which we discover meaning, belonging, and insight. </li></ul><ul><li>This traffic flow -- made more liquid by RSS and instant messaging style real-time messaging -- is the primary dynamic that I believe we will see in all future social apps. </li></ul><ul><li>We will increasingly move toward a flow model: where the various bits that we craft and throw into the ether -- blog posts, calendar entries, photos, presence updates, whatever -- will be picked up by other apps, either to display them to us, or to make sense of them. We want to consolidate all into one flow -- a single time-stamped thread -- that all apps can dip into. </li></ul>
  29. 29. Media and Traffic: Different Registers <ul><li>Conversation flows through networks = Traffic </li></ul><ul><li>Media hold the pieces, but not the sense of the conversation </li></ul><ul><li>To understand the sense of what is being said, you have to be in the flow, not outside </li></ul>
  30. 30. Example: RSS Readering Sucks <ul><li>I don’t care if Scoble reads 1000 blogs in his RSS reader </li></ul><ul><li>Pages, Not Flow </li></ul><ul><li>Contrast: Feedcrier </li></ul>
  31. 31. Flow Strategies <ul><li>Time is a shared space </li></ul><ul><li>Productivity is second to Connection: network productivity trumps personal productivity </li></ul><ul><li>Everything important will find it’s way to you many, many times: don’t worry if you miss it </li></ul><ul><li>Remain in the flow: be wrapped up in the thing that has captured your attention </li></ul>
  32. 32. Four Flavors of Time: Physics, Linear, Cyclical, Flow <ul><li>Physics time: part of the fabric of the universe </li></ul><ul><li>Linear (Industrial) time: Kant/Leibnitz shaped the western notion of time as something we are passing through </li></ul><ul><li>Cyclical (Mystical) time: time as the unending moment </li></ul><ul><li>Flow (Lived) time: we are in the unending moment through which everything flows </li></ul>
  33. 33. New Balancing Act <ul><li>For the average person, linked in a dense, cascading social network of collaborators who depend on your timely response to critical events, it will prove increasingly difficult -- if not impossible -- to veer away from continuous partial attention. We will have to learn a new balancing act, and it will be strongly canted toward spending more cycles scanning the horizon and fewer looking down at the piecework in our laps </li></ul>
  34. 34. Overload, Shmoverload Stowe Boyd [email_address] +1 703 966 9854 625 2nd St, San Francisco CA 94107