There is a very interesting article from the Seattle Times about how we are increasingly becoming victims of our own technology. (I found the article while linking from Jon's blog to some guy called Stephen and his blog...).
Essentially the gist of the article is that we are increasingly susceptible to having our life being manipulated by the amount of information we receive:
"Some are concerned that the need for speed is shrinking our attention spans, prompting our search for answers to take the mile-wide-but-inch-deep route and settling us into a rhythm of constant interruption in which deadlines are relentless and tasks are never quite finished."
There's an interesting statistic about attention spans:
"Gloria Mark, a UC-Irvine professor, has been studying attention overload and multitasking among workers in a financial-services office. So far, she's found that the average employee switches tasks every three minutes, is interrupted every two minutes and has a maximum focus stretch of 12 minutes"
My first thought when reading that last statistic was "it's that long? Wow". What I do remember is that when I was studying for my Geography degree in the early nineties, I did most of research from text books, and I could go literally hours at a time without moving. When I did my engineering degree in the late nineties, at a time when I had far greater access to computers, I spent an awful lot of time fretting about emails, surfing the web etc. I got higher marks in my engineering degree, but twelve years later I tend to remember a lot more of the first degree.
I'm finding myself increasingly becoming a victim of both the information highway and my addiction to it. I completely resonate with this:
"Some of us get obsessed, checking e-mails while on vacation or late at night. We will e-mail to avoid talking and expect prompt reply, or fire off text-messages or gab on cellphones not because we have something to say, but because we can. (What? Am I interrupting?)"
I feel naked if I leave my house house without my Blackberry, and if I leave without my phone? I'll go home to get it. Although I do take comfort in that I do spend a lot of time with friends on a one to one basis. My housemates, however, tend not to get to enjoy such time with me. That's my fault!
It's a long article, but one that is worth the read. You may even read it all in one sitting (I couldn't) and it may take longer than twelve minutes.
There is a final observation about blogging too:
"Blogs — personal Web sites where people share information, commentary and feelings — have filled part of the void, keeping their audience current on topics of specific interest. But as Brown says, if all your information is tailored to what you want to know, you may miss that which you don't know you want to know, and should."