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At DLD07 conference, continuous partial attention

Posted by Annplugged on January 21, 2007

I am taking feverish notes right now at the DLD conference in Munich: so the following series of posts will be about the conference and not about the cross-section of search, Google, and Hungary specifically.

Linda Stone: On Attention

So what about our so precious attention? Linda Stone says continuous partial attention (CPA) does not equal with multi-tasking (MT): while CPA is fuelled by the urge not to miss anything, MT is propelled by the sense of having to or wishing to be more productive.
Although the trend of CPA is getting widespread, there is also a reversal in the trend due to the increasing attention and stress related diseases we are undergoing. The result? Searching for less being ON, being more protective and trying to fend off our private time, and looking for more meaningful relationships.
‘More meaningful’ does not necessarily mean, says Linda, that no more World of Warcraft is getting in your life. WOW in itself is a more meaningful form of interaction than first person shooters. ‘More meaningful,’ in this sense, gives scope for web-based hobby communities, i.e. collective attentions, which are like tribes, rather than games of solitude and purely individual achievements.
Whether on or off getting more from what our attention is turned to is a growing demand. Endless stimulation is becoming less emphatic, instrad, the quality of stimulation is in the limelight. Quality of life is the new mantra. Ease of use has become a default setting, now the question is: how much this gadgety-widgety is improving my life? And that is a powerful message to the design world, to all of us connected to design in one way or another. For mass consumption of quality design just think of ipod (OK, it would have been more timely to say iphone, but that’s only coming to Europe, meaning the western part of it, in Q4, as I heard it)

And one more thing, before CPA culminates in 2014, as estimated by Linda Stone, we may experience a period of tech-driven birth control: back home from work means being glued to blackberries rather than being glued to nice verbal intros to night’s niceties.
But in a few years’ time, more and more of us will know how to use those attention devouring tools but will choose no to use them in certain ‘more meaningful’ hours. Just look at the millennials: “it is natural for them not to live to work, but to work to live, and actually stop working at 6 pm.” Linda also added “The millenials are more in control: they find it intrusive to be called on the mobile, and consider IM or sms as the natural way to communicate on a broad scale.” Well, this is the point where there surely will be an interesting change, in Europe definitely, now that free, fully ad-sponsored, Blyk is on the way (mid-2007 Blyk is lauched in the UK targeting 16-24 of age users. They will be flooded by Blyk phones, and speak, speak, watch, hear and speak for free on a mobile, and even enjoy some rich media, and speak. So who cannot disturb them, if companies can?)

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3 Responses to “At DLD07 conference, continuous partial attention”

  1. Hi Anna, your post is very interesting because I had just read the article below on “daydreaming is brain’s default setting”

    http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/01/19/brain.daydreams.reut/index.html

    I look forward to learning more about continuous partial attention, this is a new term to me and very fascinating, thanks!

  2. Hi, Noel, interesting article, thanks for the link! Daydreaming as I see is redefined as refocusing on the to do list, so the article could be suggesting that CPA is our default setting and it only gets more intensive in a digital lifestyle?

  3. [...] was an honor to be the opening keynote. (watch Linda’s presentation on video at the DLD [...]

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