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Emailing Ourselves to Death

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31
raydavisPerson was signed in when posted
07-08-2003
12:33 AM ET (US)
The choice is between everyone going to hell or everyone going to paradise? That has a familiar ring.

Speaking as the goat-sheep equivalent of a mule, I'd suggest that the goats and the sheep are responding to the same stimuli in different ways, and the goat pundits and sheep pundits are braying as seems proper to them.
30
DutchPerson was signed in when posted
07-07-2003
08:54 PM ET (US)
Hey, I'm sorry if I've misinterpreted these comments. Of course, not every single Internet post requires an "I am not arrogant" tag.

I just think you may be avoiding the ingenuity of the lower class by focusing on yourselves.

I feel bad even using that phrase, but I do think it's true that the lower class is not ONLY poor. The lower class is excluded from intellectual life by elitism.

Coming from the relatively unique position of a redneck child who grew up reading "sophisticated" books, I see this as a serious problem in society.

It all boils down to the problem of deciding who your friends are. A person who alienates or rejects his true friends is doomed to failure.

Even if someone attains monetary success, it is a failure if he's merely supported by other intellectually eunuchs. Ignoring all capitalist pig bullshit, even the most radical should realize that the common man must be reached. Otherwise, it's all a bullshit masturbation exercise among deviants.
29
Jason ScottPerson was signed in when posted
07-07-2003
08:01 PM ET (US)
First of all the link is not to Neil Postman discussing telecommunications. It is a collection of excerpts from Neil Postman's work of filth Amusing Ourselves to Death, which is essentially a screed of insults aimed at everyone who is not Neil Postman and employed at a University with tenure. I'm not going to go into how much this book sucks, plenty of people have lots of say on it. But it has nothing to do with the Internet, E-mail, or anything else of the sort; the book is 18 years old!
28
Michael HardnerPerson was signed in when posted
07-07-2003
06:13 PM ET (US)
"When do we stop lamenting a change like this and start looking for the value of the new trend? When do we start examining the upsides of fluid and multifarious attention, rather than popping off reactionary warnings about the dangers of being "addicted" to communications? "

Why does Cory D infuriate me so much ? Maybe because he's a successful writer and blogger who occaisonally says things I consider to be kind of dumb. Well, he seems like a nice guy at least.

Mcluhan explained that any new medium must necessarily find its place in society and it's very difficult for us to understand BEFOREHAND how that will work.

An example from today might be Google. Google didn't happen until the boom was a few years old. Likewise, when telegraphs were invented, the PILOT project was using a telegraph to play chess between Washington and Baltimore.

Read "Understanding Media" by Mcluhan or Harold Innes - (these are two intellectual giants and both Toronto based too ) if you're interested in more.
27
SixDifferentWaysPerson was signed in when posted
07-07-2003
04:08 PM ET (US)
I think some of it also has to do with personal psychology. I work very cognitively, and get bored and give up easily if forced to concentrate too long and be too focused on a single task. So multitasking does actually help me work faster and better. But my wife is the opposite of me - she can only really concentrate on one thing at a time - and gets tons done that way. She has this amazing ability to focus and tune everything else out. I, on the other hand, have to keep glancing around and listening to other stimuli in order to be productive.
26
cheesebikiniPerson was signed in when posted
07-07-2003
03:53 PM ET (US)
Along these lines, here are a few thoughts about how constant digital connectedness affected people's behavior at a conference:

http://www.cheesebikini.com/blog/archives/000245.html
25
xtrmntrPerson was signed in when posted
07-07-2003
01:19 PM ET (US)
I have absolutely no problem with timeslicing, until someone asks me to track hours on my projects. It's like, "Uh, yeah.... I think I was kind of updating those documents while I was waiting for the batch to finish...but I was also doing tech support for the guy who sits next to me. Is there a job code for that?" =)
24
Kickstart70Person was signed in when posted
07-06-2003
11:38 PM ET (US)
/m9

I liked Highlander 2!

...of the planet Zeist!

What were we talking about?

Seriously though...the more time I spend on the computer the less focus I have for other things. It's like it muddles my head. Doesn't help that I spent upwards of 14 hours online per day.

Perhaps there is something to this for a smaller segment of computer users?
23
LSchwarkPerson was signed in when posted
07-06-2003
08:00 PM ET (US)
There are truths and fallacies on both sides of this issue.

First, computers are very efficient tools for goofing off! And if you are undisciplined in your use of the net, it can eat wads of your time without having produced anything of value. I'm sure this describes a lot of people's experience.

Until people really become accustomed to this new way as normal and old-hat, rather than as a novelty, most people will suck at truly being productive or they will allow the goof-off capabilities to sap their productivity. I don't really think it's been long enough for us to believe that most people really are there yet.

For those who are skilled practitioners of multi-tasking, I believe they approach it with some awareness of when extraneous threads and tasks are eating their productivity. When I'm working on a project, IM saves me having to take my hands of the keyboard and go to a meatspace meeting (or sometimes - save me from leaving the house to go to work), email provides my my paper trail and documentation, reference materials live on websites, and I listen to streaming music to keep my focused on my work rather than the distractions around me. If someone is distracting me with non-productive IM conversations while I'm trying to work, I ask them to wait or put up an away message (or in worst case scenarios, shut down my IM client).

As someone who lives around my computer and the net, my computer has become my primary work tool, my communication device, my electronic recording studio, my stereo, my personal encyclopedia and newspaper, etc. It has taken over functions of other items and devices and so of course, I spend more time with it.

Sometimes the definition of productivity is just to narrow and linear. Yes, I spent 4 more hours in front of my computer today because I wasn't just sticking to the thing I was trying to accomplish. I got distracted by friends and streams of information coming at me. But when I'm done for the day and step away from my computer, I discover I've spent that time socializing, researching and accomplishing fragments of things that will eventually count as enhancements of my overall productivity.

My last point -- what are you trying to do? What is your measure of productivity? The approach I've described works for me because I'm a knowledge worker. If you're a welder, it may be that much of the time you spend on the net is not going to count to your productivity.
22
Tom JordanPerson was signed in when posted
07-06-2003
05:27 PM ET (US)
I have to say I have been getting news information from the web for years now and it has both the potential for in depth content like a newspaper of magazine, and the "hot / live" currency of broadcast media. It also offers a very broad range of information sources and I think is much more resistant to spin than "infotainment" as a source of news and information. Blogging is a relatively new phenomonon and it levels the playing field between the government and corporate information manager strategists and intelligent individuals with a point of view and access to information. I find some of your messages superfluous to my interests but others very interesting and very timely.

Ten years ago the top >1% had access to the information on a realtime basis in their offices while the rest of us got it at home after six.

That was then This is now. Are they seriously arguing we should go back?
21
WinstonCPerson was signed in when posted
07-06-2003
04:31 PM ET (US)
"...short order cooks, air traffic controllers, jazz musicians..."
Bogus comparisons. If any one of those people stopped what they were doing to multi-task - meaning, do something different at the same time - then the food would burn, the plane would crash and the tune would sound awful.
Or maybe Squiggy is one of these people who can multi-task well and can cook short order meals, play the saxophone and control air traffic simultaneously.
In other words - you cannot do more than one thing at a time well.
20
Dan KaminskyPerson was signed in when posted
07-06-2003
04:30 PM ET (US)
Arkham--

   There were studies about the dangers of traveling +30MPH!?

   Where?!

--Dan
19
ArkhamAdeptPerson was signed in when posted
07-06-2003
04:07 PM ET (US)
Once upon a time, I was at a friend's house, watching Cable (I have no such thing in my home) and we channel surfed to Macneil/Lehrer report, and they interviewed some Net genius, complaining about how the Internet was going to make us all robots who were incapable of talking, or associating with other meat space people, etc.

We continued to channel surf to the Lifetime channel, and they were doing a piece on this website devoted to pregnancy and pregnant women. In addition to the terribly practical (If you're in the Philly area, stay away from Dr. Quack, etc.), they also had a chat/message board kinda thing where newly expectant mothers could ask questions and swap stories with women who have had several children, and just ask those nutty questions like "My feet swelled up like basketballs and then went back to normal, is that OK?"
Questions they'd never ask their doctors ("Are you overcharging me?"), and so forth.

But the money quote for me was one of the women, having met her chat pals in real space, said, "Normally in any village, there's only one woman pregnant at any given time. What we've done here is create an entire village of pregnant women."

I won't say that ADD is mythical, but these ideas that the Net is Evil and Unhealthy is on par with all those studies a hundred years ago about the Dangers of travelling faster than thirty miles an hour.
18
squiggyPerson was signed in when posted
07-06-2003
01:07 PM ET (US)
studies like this seem really stupid to me. they make generalities out of the wild diversity of the human brain. of course technology doesn't create ADD, which is a misleading term at best. different kinds of brains use technology with differing styles and aptitudes.

people who multi-task well are those people whose brains are good at handling a number of tasks simultaneously. i'd go so far as to argue that technology has nothing to do with it: think about short order cooks, air traffic controllers, jazz musicians. those kinds of brains have to hold lots of constantly changing information within a structure.

people without the natural aptitude for multi-tasking can learn to manage multiple streams of information through discipline, but their systems tend to be rigid, not creative. and then there are those who flounder around, wasting their time, because they'd be better off doodling their thoughts on paper.
17
Jeff SuttorPerson was signed in when posted
07-06-2003
12:51 PM ET (US)
my personal experience is that mainlining the 'Net actually improves my day-to-day reality. e.g. I check email real-time when at events to create a bidirectional information flow/participation between those who are there and those who are not there. I constantly use communication technologies to bring in people and information to existing interactions, some of which are recursive derivatives of enhanced interactions themselves. good or bad depends on who's in control. self directed/elected ADD is a blast. manufactured desire/churn/thrash is a drag.
Edited 07-06-2003 12:51 PM
16
WinstonCPerson was signed in when posted
07-06-2003
12:47 PM ET (US)
Perhaps, Cory, you'd like yet another layer of "productivity" on top of your current multi-tasking workload. And another. And another...

There's no argument. Email is great, but it - and the spam that goes with it are a giant time-sink.

Also, culturally, I think cellphones are disasterous for one's social life. Far too many people cannot go 15 minutes without using their cellphones - even while in the company of somebody else in a social situation. They are used in such a way that the net result is rude, ignorant and inconsiderate. And the sad fact is that this anti-social behavior has become the norm.
Edited 07-06-2003 12:58 PM
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