I’m not sure I have much to add to the chorus of modern pundits speaking out against digital distraction. But it’s worth admitting publicly that like many of you, I have a digital addiction.
It’s hard for me to embrace new ways the Web is evolving to the extent that they divide personal attention further and further. It’s possible to spend all day reacting to stimulus being shot at you, to never actually be present, and to never give your undivided attention to anyone or anything, whether they deserve it or not.
What will we become of us living perpetually in such a mode? It’s clearer to me every day that Constant Partial Attention is the enemy of productivity, creativity, and likely deep spiritual and intellectual happiness. (Of course, it’s also pretty clear to chain smokers that smoking causes cancer.) There are oodles of tools cropping up to help keep you from being interrupted. We’re eventually coming to head around this (not soon enough unfortunately), and it’s fueled by media’s need to continue making dollars advertising and promoting, and technology’s desire to keep delivering more real-time information to more of your devices efficiently.
I don’t know if it’s possible to give up this addiction while still pursuing a career in technology and the internet. I know very few effective technology leaders who aren’t enslaved on the treadmill of over-connectedness and digital distraction. But maybe 2011 will bring a new path, a better balance. I hope so.