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Senate House Library in Russell Square
Senate House Library in Russell Square

Thanks again to Rebecca’s Pocket (see last post) for pointing me in the direction of Ear Plugs to Lasers an article in the NY Times about Winifried Gallagher’s book Rapt, on the subject of attention. Readers of this blog may know that I have a thing about people who say they can multitask (see here and there)

Gallagher says in the article: ‘Multitasking is a myth…You cannot do two things at once. The mechanism of attention is selection: it’s either this or it’s that.”

It seems Rebecca’s got a thing about this subject too: see her posting on Attention Deficit Trait. One of the links leads to a 2006 article by psychiatrist Dr Edward Hallowell, who says :

It’s the great seduction of the information age. You can create the illusion of doing work and of being productive and creative when you’re not. You’re just treading water

Back in 2003, I called this ‘playing the email fugue‘.  Nothing has changed, except that we now have more things to present the illusion of multitasking. If anything, I detect a disturbing suspicion in the air that unless you are available, twittering, facebooking, emailing, phoneable, googleable, leaving little electronic strands of yourself in cyberspace, you can be up to no good.

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Jonathan Still, ballet pianist