t talked last night with Linda Stone about her idea of continuous partial attention. She says it is different from multi-tasking.
This is really relevant to some of the thoughts I've been having about the UI of mobile devices and how they fade in and out of your attention rather than being on or off like computer screens. Yes, you do this a bit with computers, but not nearly as seamlessly as mobile phones are integrated in the real world by advanced users.Linda StoneFrom Inc.com
It's not the same as multitasking; that's about trying to accomplish several things at once. With continuous partial attention, we're scanning incoming alerts for the one best thing to seize upon: "How can I tune in in a way that helps me sync up with the most interesting, or important, opportunity?
Also, the IRC back channel at conferences or the multi-modal distance learning projects where you have a video of the speaker, the power point presentation, the chat, the wiki and the back channel going at the same time. It CAN be very overwhelming, but I think it's because we are conditioned to think that we need to understand all of the information that is being transmitted.
I think an interesting metaphor might be the difference between loss-less and lossy compression technology. There is so much information being transmitted and it doesn't matter if you everything exactly (or if you are getting exactly the same bits as someone else). You can glean from the fire-hose in the mode that makes the most sense for you. The trick is to get a picture of what is going on from a perspective that makes sense for you in a format that compresses well for you. I think that if we stop trying to "catch it all" which we are conditioned to do, and think more in terms of lossy compression and surfing parallel streams and multi-modes, maybe it is easier.
Also, we discussed last night now human brains are adapting to these changes and how probably younger generations will continue to grow up differently and interfaces and modes will adapt again to this new generation. This has a lot to do with the discussion on ADD.
Good entry in Smartmobs with more links.