Wow, I just discovered a blogger by the name of Kathy Sierra. Weirdly, she stopped blogging about 5 years ago after receiving death threats (read more about it here, it weirdly involves Chris Locke, the author of The Cluetrain Manifesto, a piece of writing that I’ve only ever heard referred to favourably up till now).
Enough of the weirdness, what I really want to pick up on are some comments she made about the use of twitter. In her own words:
Worst of all, this onslaught is keeping us from doing the one thing that makes most of us the happiest… being in flow. Flow requires a depth of thinking and a focus of attention that all that context-switching prevents. Flow requires a challenging use of our knowledge and skills, and that’s quite different from mindless tasks we can multitask (eating and watching tv, etc.) Flow means we need a certain amount of time to load our knowledge and skills into our brain RAM. And the more big or small interruptions we have, the less likely we are to ever get there.
And not only are we stopping ourselves from ever getting in flow, we’re stopping ourselves from ever getting really good at something. From becoming experts. The brain scientists now tell us that becoming an expert is not a matter of being a prodigy, it’s a matter of being able to focus.
Apologies for just copying and pasting so much of her writing here, but I’m not sure I can say it any better myself. She then goes on to quote Linda Stone:
“To pay continuous partial attention is to pay partial attention — CONTINUOUSLY. It is motivated by a desire to be a LIVE node on the network. Another way of saying this is that we want to connect and be connected. We want to effectively scan for opportunity and optimize for the best opportunities, activities, and contacts, in any given moment. To be busy, to be connected, is to be alive, to be recognized, and to matter.
We pay continuous partial attention in an effort NOT TO MISS ANYTHING. It is an always-on, anywhere, anytime, any place behavior that involves an artificial sense of constant crisis. We are always in high alert when we pay continuous partial attention. This artificial sense of constant crisis is more typical of continuous partial attention than it is of multi-tasking.”
Kathy goes on to make the qualification that it probably is possible to use twitter in a way that doesn’t involve being always-on. Her final conclusion:
All I’m saying is that beyond the hype, we should consider just how far down the rabbit hole of always-on-attention we really want to go.
Amazing to consider that she wrote this just over 5 years ago! I like the theme and I like what she has to say. I use twitter, facebook, and Linkedin, and I do some consulting in the social media space as well. On the other hand, I coach people around mindfulness. What interests me is how to chart a middle road between being always-on and being mindful (achieving flow). Watch this site for further blogs on this subject.