One of my friends and a former roommate loved listen to music while reading. He swore that listening to the Beastie Boys helped him concentrate while reading Focault. I hated it. I can multitask with the best of them, but about 50% of the time when I do I get too scattered and end up ignoring one thing in favor of the other, “shiny thing” over there.
My friends all tried to diagnose me with “Adult ADD” or just regular old “ADHD” but I always resisted that label. Rather than launch into a wordy attack on ADD and ADHD let’s just let it go with: who cares what the label is. I know how to turn my concentration levels on and off and have gotten a lot better about avoiding certain types of multitasking that get me in trouble.
I can say that technology, especially in the last 2 years, has certainly amplified the opportunities for me to become distracted: RSS feeds, message boards, Facebook/Myspace, email, instant messaging, blogs, iTunes, telephones, text messaging, ZOMG EVERYONE PANIC!!!one!!1!!! I can also, categorically state that devices like the iTouch are even more dangerous for me because they keep me connected so ubiquitously. They are actually quite addicting, if I were to tell the truth.
Of course, I’m not the first person who has recognized this sea change; academics are just starting to look into the effect that devices like this have on their students, teaching, and learning. I link there to a Baltimore Sun article on the phenomena which has some really good anecdotes about how technology is effecting our ability to analyze, think deeply, and think critically.
So, go ahead, click the link, put on some 3 Inches of Blood and see if you can’t make it all the way through the article before you get distracted.