I'm at O'Reilly's Emerging Telephony Conference this week. First up was Stowe Boyd, speaking on Communication Underflow. He argued that Continuous Partial Attention and the continual connectivity inspired by on-line gaming, are a feature and not a bug - a sensible response to the world in which we now live. While the ethos and practice of multitasking is at odds with most educational and industrial practices, it is a state of consciousness that is well suited to circumstances where situational awareness is key. He pointed out that learning to juggle is the process of learning not to focus on the individual balls or their movements but instead to look for the ball that's outside of the normal pattern.
The second half of the talk introduced Csíkszentmihályi's concept of Flow - a state of total oneness with the activity at hand and the situation. Stowe offered some strategies for being productive in the flow-optimized world:
- Productivity is second to Connection: network productivity trumps personal productivity.
- Everything important will find it's way to you many times, don't worry if you miss it the first time.
- Remain in the flow: be wrapped in the thing that has captured your attention.
He ended with a philosophical discourse on the four flavors of time:
- Linear - Kant & Leibnitz's notion of time as something we are passing through
- Cyclical - the unending moment that poets write about
- Flow - Piaget's concept of "lived" time
In the future we will be more likely to think of time as the unending moment through which everything else flows and will learn how to spend "more time scanning the horizon and fewer looking down at the piecework in our laps."