Attention span : just one of many attributes that technology has modified

Over the last year, while studying, I noticed there is a marked difference in my ability to concentrate for long periods, without distraction, on study material. When at university,  I can recall completing sessions in excess 90 minutes quite easily. These days I struggle to hit two pomodoro successively without a distraction. And major ones at that.

I have surmised that modern technology and the internet has a part to play. After all, at university I didn’t have a internet connected device in my pocket. I had to walk over to the the computer lab. (We were so jealous of the computer science “nerds” who had connections in their residence rooms.)  In the last few months I have come across a few articles where this was mentioned in passing. Today, purely by chance I happened to see an interview with William Powers at the recent  Melbourne Writer’s festival. And he just made sense. He has authored “Hamlet’s Blackberry” in which he describes the role of technology and how it has changed us. And one item he did mention, was this new inability to maintain a sufficient attention span.

As further food for thought he showed this advertisement from a major Thai telecommunications company. It speaks for itself.

He also related a type of technology sabbath , that he and his family has practiced for 4 years already, whereby the family turns off their modem for the weekend on a Friday evening. I wonder how I would cope 😉

The original interview is no longer online but a transcript of a shorter interview:  “Are we becoming slaves to machines?”