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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Technology, computers, the internet and the decline of concentrated attention

If you have trouble reading this, click on the photograph of the writing and then click again to enlarge it. Happy reading!


R said...

Cake, cookies, strawberries, and broccoli,oh my. I've been online half my life now and I'm old enough that the first couple of years were a couple of dialup BBS that didn't even have internet gateways (I was geeky enough that they weren't AOL, Prodigy, or Compuserv). I think my attention span has decreased. I certinlly read fewer books and printed periodicals now. I'm not much of a writer though and defiantly don't care to write long hand though.

David said...

This is not the traditional longhand writing, aka cursive, that I learned in grade school. The letters of a each word should all be connected (flowing) together.

Janice Boughton said...

No, definitely not the cursive I learned in school. It went through various permutations to become more readable and still fast.

Janice Boughton said...

This has had 4 views in 24 hours, at least according to the blogger stats. Usually there are spikes in readership after any blog goes up. There is probably something interesting going on with regard to the lack of machine readable text.

herbert said...

I recently looked at some of my old notebooks with song/poem fragments, letters to editors, notes from classes and conferences, etc. and think that my powers of attention to a thread of a conjecture, hypothesis or argument hasn't noticeably decreased. I do 'bounce around' more than I once did... fewer dictionary & encyclopedia visits, more wiki... but that hasn't seemed to constrain my attention span. If anything, it has made possible more mental juggling.I don't have as high an opinion of my multitasking abilities (having boiled away too many pots of water, etc)... but keeping an idea on a 'back burner while pursuing something that 'just came up' seems easier than it once did.
The problem is that I have always been a curious, open, information omnivore... a generalist to the max. As I grow older and more comfortable in this sedentary setup (with a screen to the world) I'm spending far too much of my time here. That is, I have about 2 or 3 lifetime's worth of projects away from this chair that I'd like to pursue, but I'm not Doing (as i once Did). I am, however, both eternally hopeful, and divinely discontented... which should be enough, if/when I wake, to boil more water for tea... and go outside to pee and take a look around... and listen. ^..^

herbert said...

You seem to equate "concentrated attention" to both engagement of the mind AND tactile experience (a "wood-based book" instead of a digital Kindle file), and also to the mind that's "freed" from that physical engagement (because the body is busy doing things that don't require the 'supervision' of the mind). The latter I know well... and always welcomed. My best "letters" to editors, and best analyses of 'problems' or fancies brought up by curiosity happened when I was doing a repetitive task... mopping floors, planting trees, picking berries, fishing, etc (but Not hunting!).
However, I think that you are on to something, with regard for those for whom books are becoming an 'oddity'-- people younger than a certain age-- whose iPhone "pocketful of miracles" is just a 'given'. You seem to be on a cusp, in that regard... aware of both 'worlds' (or "states of being"). I'm curious to see what conclusions you draw from your observations. ^..^