Khethil
 
Reply Mon 27 Oct, 2008 08:09 am
Hey all,

I just started a book called "Distracted: The erosion of attention and the coming Dark Age" [1] by Maggie Jackson. I'll post up a review when I'm done, but it's theme was so interesting, I thought I'd post a few quotes from the forward as a nice topic to discuss.

Rather than give my take just yet, I thought I'd let a few quotes speak for themselves. She's on to something I really look forward to learning more about:

From Introduction
[INDENT]"Amid the glittering promise of our new technologies and the wondrous potential of our scientific gains, we are nurturing a culture of social diffusion, intellectual fragmentation, sensory detachment. In this new world, something is amiss. And that something is attention.. The way we live is eroding our capacity for deep, sustained, perceptive attention -- the building blocks of intimacy, wisdom and cultural progress"

"I think we're beginning to see a time of darkness when, amid a plethora of high-tech connectivity, one-quarter of Americans say they have no close confidante, more than double the number twenty years ago. It's a darkening time when we think togetherness means one eye, hand, or ear on our gadgets, ever ready to tune into another channel of life, when we beging to turn to robots to tend to the sick and the old, when doctors listen to patients on average for just eighteen seconds before interrupting, and when two-thirds of children under six live in homes that keep the television onhalf or more of the time, an environment linked to attention deficiencies. We should worry when we have the world at our fingertips but half of Americans age eighteen to twenty-four can't find New York state on a map and more than 60 percent can't simiarly locate Iraq. We should be concerned when we sense that short-term thinking in the workplace eclipses intellectual pattern making, and when we're staking our cultural memory largely on digital data that is disappearing at astonishing rates. We should worry when attention slips through our fingers".
[/INDENT]The effect of quick sound bites, multitasking, gadgetry - and the culture that spawns these - on the individual's attention span and how that relates to the decline of a culture. Fascinating stuff!

Thoughts?

~~~~~~~~~
[1] Copyright 2008 by Maggie Jackson, Published by Prometheus Press
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Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Oct, 2008 02:26 pm
@Khethil,
Reading, and reading well, is the cure.

We have a non-literate culture. Illiterate means someone cannot read, non-literate means they chose not to read.

What you decide to read is extremely important. Should you read a comic book or a classic? Probably the classic.
Theaetetus
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Oct, 2008 04:23 pm
@Khethil,
Kind of reminds me of what Marshall McLuhan warned about in much of his work from the middle of the 20th century. He worried how humans would integrate new technologies into life, and how they lead to altered ways of interacting in the world (see the Guttenberg Galaxy).

I am glad to see that someone is looking at attention deficit and the relationship between man and media. Having nearly all information at our finger tips and being able to recall it whenever desired reduces our ability to pay attention, because it allows us throw patience out the window. When one has a lack of patience they struggle to actually form human bonds to have close confidants because they do not have the ability to allow things to grow over time. Thus, human relationships have also become much like our short bursts of digital information. Interchangeable with the ability to throw away at a moments notice.
0 Replies
 
Deftil
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Oct, 2008 05:26 pm
@Khethil,
I find a bit of irony in the fact that most people that could benefit from this book wouldn't spend the time to read it! LOL - but I'm sure it can still have value and be useful.

I was just saying the other day that I think our high-tech, fast paced society is resulting in kids (who eventually grow into adults) that have poor attention, and who aren't easily impressed or entertained. I mean in America in particular we have 10 year olds that are playing complex video games, watching movies on DVD, listening to CDs, using computers, going on the internet, etc... this is SO different in complexity of entertainment to the way it was for 10 year olds just 30 years ago. *shakes cane*

Oh god, I sound so oooooold! I'm going to go shoot myself now!!

Hey - I just happened to come across a podcast interview with Maggie Jackson about this book and her ideas so I thought I'd share in case anyone is interested.

Maggie Jackson - Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age | Point of Inquiry

Quote:
In this interview with D.J. Grothe, Maggie Jackson discusses her controversial thesis about the downsides of the information age, and how the distractions from modern technologies lead to less critical thinking and less fulfilled lives. She explores the causes and effects of the erosion of attention, including media culture, the internet and personal communication devices, and even our fast-food culture, and how these impact relationships, work and personal identity. She details some advances in "attention science," a field in cognitive neuroscience, and what they tell us about how people can overcome their distractions. And she shares what listeners can do to stop the erosion of attention in their lives.
For those of you who too riddled with ADD as a result of modern technology to actually get and read the book, you can just listen to this 20 minute interview to find out what made you the way you are and what you can do about it! Laughing

By the way, for those that haven't already, I recommend checking out the Point of Inquiry site in general because I think some of the podcasts are pretty interesting. Lots of good interviews with smart authors, philosophers, and scientists.
Point of Inquiry
sarek
 
  1  
Reply Fri 31 Oct, 2008 09:55 am
@Khethil,
Deftil wrote:

For those of you who too riddled with ADD as a result of modern technology to actually get and read the book,


Small point of clarification is in order here.
ADD is not caused by environmental or technological factors but is at best exacerbated by them. It has a clearly defined physiological cause and cannot be cured.
Deftil
 
  1  
Reply Fri 31 Oct, 2008 04:41 pm
@sarek,
sarek;30613 wrote:
Small point of clarification is in order here.
ADD is not caused by environmental or technological factors but is at best exacerbated by them. It has a clearly defined physiological cause and cannot be cured.

Hello sarek! I have responded to your point of clarification, but because I wanted to go into some detail, and also because this thread isn't expressly about the causes of ADD, I opted to create a new thread to do so here - http://www.philosophyforum.com/forum/philosophy-forums/branches-philosophy/philosophy-health/2573-cause-s-add-genetic-vs-nongenetic.html

Maybe that and this thread should be merged, but I didn't want to take the risk of going in detail about something off-topic, even if it is only somewhat off-topic. :cool:
0 Replies
 
BlueChicken
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 Nov, 2008 08:11 am
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:
[INDENT]"Amid the glittering promise of our new technologies and the wondrous potential of our scientific gains, we are nurturing a culture of social diffusion, intellectual fragmentation, sensory detachment."

"I think we're beginning to see a time of darkness when, amid a plethora of high-tech connectivity, one-quarter of Americans say they have no close confidante, more than double the number twenty years ago. We should worry when we have the world at our fingertips but half of Americans age eighteen to twenty-four can't find New York state on a map and more than 60 percent can't simiarly locate Iraq."

[/INDENT]
[INDENT]

I wonder how she attributes all of these concerns to the rise of high-tech materials (especially in the home)? 'Correlation does not equal causation' is something taught in every basic research methods class: just because two things arise simultaneously does not mean one causes the other, they are both caused by the same thing or that they are related. This forces me to inquire how many people could identify Iraq on a map 25 years ago, or how many "close confidentes" one should have, from her perspective.

All of the issues she identifies seems to be a strictly educational failing rather than a social response to the rise of advanced technologies becoming entrenched in our culture. Attention spans, the use of television, identifying basic information, "intellectual pattern making" all seem to be issues addressed under classroom management topics, not neo-Luddite argumentation fuel.

... or so it would seem to colourful poultry, who gets excited to see corn.
[/INDENT]
0 Replies
 
Salo phil
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 05:54 am
@Deftil,
Deftil wrote:
I mean in America in particular we have 10 year olds that are playing complex video games,....


You have 10 year olds playing complex games (like World of Warcraft for instance) that require social co-operation, careful planning to progress, and above all, prolonged attention. Some people, both adults and kids, are devoting hours and hours to this sort of game and that is clearly not a lack of attention. It may be misguided attention, but the attention is still there. So it seems that its not the technology itself that manifests the lack of attention but the way in which it's used. Not whether you play computer games at all, but the type of game you play, etc.
jgweed
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 08:20 am
@Khethil,
The same teenager who will begin to figit after 45 minutes in a classroom will glady spend 5 hours play WoW, so it is not necessarily that the attention span is limited. Isn't it that it is "OK" to spend hours on something entertaining, but not on something dull or, to the teen, uninteresting?
And if you look at the evening news, how much of it is geared toward, or masked by, the same entertainment?
0 Replies
 
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 08:41 am
@Salo phil,
I can offer some clarification here on the causality; however, how much validity anyone sees in it is, of course, up to them.

Short Version: A flood of causal studies are included in the book and the amount of credible research is quite impression. My suggestion: Read it

Long Version: As far as attention decrease goes, the idea is this: The more we have that divert our attention - at any time - the less we concentrate (or ponder, or consider, or reason out) whatever it was we were doing. In my room now, I've got four computers, 2 cell phones with texting, active email sessions and a video game. I'm also here typing on the philosophy forum. How "consistent" can I be in reading these fine responses as all these things bleep, blip and otherwise "call" for my attention? Attention switching - that process of getting interrupted - is a little hard (for me at least) to deny given the sheer number of distractions we now so enthusiastically embrace. Now, there's always been "distractions", the problem now is that with our frenzied lifestyle where doing more and multitasking is so heartily embraced, coupled with all the gadgets we have, there's been a marked increase in attention difficulties.

Thanks - Hope this helps.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 09:32 am
@Khethil,
From my basic education of the !950s in a deprived area ..schooled for the shop floor to my grandchildren who have unbelievable opportunities and access to unending information ...it is a wonder that i could never imagine as a child...put the clock back? no way Jose ..for all its problems children are better informed educated and have a much better IQ than their grandparents..
BlueChicken
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 09:43 am
@xris,
xris wrote:
From my basic education of the !950s in a deprived area ..schooled for the shop floor to my grandchildren who have unbelievable opportunities and access to unending information ...it is a wonder that i could never imagine as a child...put the clock back? no way Jose ..for all its problems children are better informed educated and have a much better IQ than their grandparents..

I think the problem, however, is not how intelligent they are but how well they are able to utilize that intelligence. Even is students are more intelligent than they were half a century ago (which the constant revision of IQ tests would attest to) the issue is that the loss of focus is undermining their ability to utilize the skills they learn. While spacio-temporal reasoning may be at an all time high student lack the ability to comprehend basic geography (identifying Iraq on a map) because they lack the focus to study information on any great scale.

As a nod to jgweed, this does seem limited to 'academic' skills however. Although many student up here do not know who General James Wolfe is (a major player in Canadian history, analagous to Ulysses S. Grant) but are able to sustain lengthy discussions about the role of Sephiroth in the Final Fantasy video game series. And rather than being a marginal group this seems to be emerging as a much more acceptable (or at least widespread) lifestyle. Again, the skills are developed (hand-eye co-ordination that would make my flute playing virtuouso at least) but are unable to translate to the real world.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 10:25 am
@BlueChicken,
BlueChicken wrote:
I think the problem, however, is not how intelligent they are but how well they are able to utilize that intelligence. Even is students are more intelligent than they were half a century ago (which the constant revision of IQ tests would attest to) the issue is that the loss of focus is undermining their ability to utilize the skills they learn. While spacio-temporal reasoning may be at an all time high student lack the ability to comprehend basic geography (identifying Iraq on a map) because they lack the focus to study information on any great scale.

As a nod to jgweed, this does seem limited to 'academic' skills however. Although many student up here do not know who General James Wolfe is (a major player in Canadian history, analagous to Ulysses S. Grant) but are able to sustain lengthy discussions about the role of Sephiroth in the Final Fantasy video game series. And rather than being a marginal group this seems to be emerging as a much more acceptable (or at least widespread) lifestyle. Again, the skills are developed (hand-eye co-ordination that would make my flute playing virtuouso at least) but are unable to translate to the real world.
I dont think this is a modern phenomena every generation has its problems with what students want to learn and what they learn ..this generation is bombarded with more technological advances in education and amusements... should we be really surprised?
ROBOTER
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 Jan, 2009 06:10 pm
@xris,
xris;35005 wrote:
I dont think this is a modern phenomena every generation has its problems with what students want to learn and what they learn ..this generation is bombarded with more technological advances in education and amusements... should we be really surprised?


Exactly! If a student needs information on a particular topic he or she can simply make a 10 second search on google or wikipedia. Why would the student need to learn to write out a huge formula in trig when the student can have a computer do it for them. Search any algorithm in google and it can produce a website with a macro done by some student in India!

A good friend of mine produced his first movie late last year. It was sold to Lionsgate, but once Lionsgate got it in their paws (no pun) they hacked it up so much in the editing department that it was almost a different movie in the final cut. He said that Lionsgate said in order for it to catch the audiences attention they needed to make it so fast that the brain could barely compute what happened before the next scene would appear. Take a look at older films from the 40's and 50's and notice how slow they are!

The same goes for the news stations. Compare CSPAN to CNN. Which one keeps you entertained more?

Informational conformity is a deep and important issue individuals must address.
0 Replies
 
hammersklavier
 
  1  
Reply Sat 24 Jan, 2009 02:50 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
Reading, and reading well, is the cure.

We have a non-literate culture. Illiterate means someone cannot read, non-literate means they chose not to read.

What you decide to read is extremely important. Should you read a comic book or a classic? Probably the classic.

Or the comic book. I'll read both, depending on my mood.

I.e., would I prefer The Days are Just Packed or Critique of Pure Reason? Well, the looser style of The Days are Just Packed provides an excellent foil to Kant's notoriously dense writing and gives me time to think about what I've just been reading.
0 Replies
 
 

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