Thursday, August 19, 2010
I listened to a very interesting interview on Spark, a CBC One program this week. Nora Young interviewed Kevin Kelly about the importance of play and the pleasures of wasting time. She also reviewed a short excerpt from an interview with Linda Stone, a writer and speaker who coined the terms, "continuous partial attention" and "email apnea". (Here is a link to the podcast. The last 15 minutes were the most interesting in my estimation)
Here is a paraphrase of some the ideas presented. We don't let our minds wander much anymore. Looking out a window or taking a walk puts our minds in a receptive mode, taking us to creative areas of our brain. Continuous partial attention is not the same as multi-tasking, but is an effort not to miss anything. This "on" switch creates a state of constant alertness and an artificial sense of impending crisis. We neglect to use the "off" switch which allows the body and mind to relax.
There is no doubt that technology changes the way we think and act. The interview pointed out that literacy rewired the brain and diminished our ability for total recall and memorization which was essential in oral traditions. We can hardly believe that ancient people could pass down accurate histories from generation to generation because we rely on print for storing information. And in this internet age, some people now have difficulty finishing a book as it requires a different type of attention than online browsing.
My work place is extra busy due to summer staff shortages and it is easy to think I am wasting time by letting my mind wander to a peaceful place. The vacation images taken this summer are my view out the window today and a reminder that my mind needs time to disengage and do nothing at all to be healthy and creative.