31 mai 2012

A culture of distraction

Joe Kraus, auteur éponyme de son blog:

Look at how internet access has changed since smart phones came into being (and this data is a year old, so I’m certain it’s even more in this direction). In the pre-smartphone era we accessed the internet roughly five times per day, in longer chunks. Today, with smartphones, we’re accessing it 27 times a day.

The effect of all of this is that we’re increasingly distracted. Less and less able to pay attention to anything for what used to be reasonable length of times.

The funny part about distraction is that it’s a worsening condition. The more distracted we are, the more likely we are to get distracted.

Some people call switching our attention between things that vie for it “multi-tasking”. Like were a computer with dual cores running two simultaneous processes.

Except that we’re not. Numerous brain imaging studies have shown that what we call “multi-tasking” in humans, is not multi-tasking at all. Your brain is merely trying to rapidly switch it’s attention between two tasks. Back and forth, as quickly as it can.

It’s shown not only that we’re dumber when we do this (an average of 10 IQ points dumber – that’s the same as pulling an all-nighter.), but that we’re also 40% less efficient at whatever it is we’re doing.

But, my favorite part about multi-tasking is that it’s proven that the more you do it, the worse you are at it. Check that out. It’s one of the only things where the more you practice it, the worse you get at it.

The reason why that’s the case is that when you practice distraction (which is what multi-tasking really is – paying attention to something that distracted you from what you were originally paying attention to), you’re training your brain. You’re training your brain to pay attention to distracting things. The more you train your brain to pay attention to distractions, the more you get distracted and the less able you are to even focus for brief periods of time on the two or three things you were trying to get done in your ‘multi-tasking’ in the first place.

Très interessant ce long article qui explique les causes, les effets et les possibles remèdes à nos distractions permanentes liées, en partie, à notre utilisation intensive des smartphones. De manière synthétique, pour les plus fainéants d’entre vous qui ne liront pas l’article tout entier, nous ne sommes pas conçu pour faire du multi-tâche — à la différence des machines — et chaque fois que notre attention est sollicitée par un appel, un SMS, un mail ou encore un tweet, c’est un peu de notre créativité, de notre imagination, de notre vision, de nos idées ou de notre ligne de pensée qui s’envole.

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