Post 1000: Thinking about thinking, the brain and information addiction

Today is my birthday, it also happens to be the day on which I have reached 1000 posts, so it seems like a good time to reflect a bit on previous post themes.

Morecombe Bay SunsetWe are currently going through a revolution that is being fuelled by technology but is primarily a social and economic change.

I first posted about this back in 2006 when I started with a couple of posts:

Both of these posts put forward the view that the people we are going to need in the new economy are people who are versatile generalists and people who are creative. In other words we are going to move from a left-brain economy to a right-brain one, at least in the traditional developed economies. This, in turn will make the brain ever more important.

I have a nagging fear and it’s this: The brain is ever more important yet we make people work in ways and subject them to technologies for which we really have no idea of their impact. In other words, I worry that we will, in years to come, see employees suing their employer for the damage that they have received through the impact of current technology much like we have seen mine workers receiving compensation for the impact of their chosen trade on them.

I worry that the millions of people constantly being interrupted by Facebook and Twitter are doing themselves unseen and yet to be understood damage.

We are already starting to know about some of the impacts and they are concerning.

It’s already accepted wisdom that people’s attention span is shorter than it used to be. In a post from 2010 Nicholas Carr stated that The Web Shatters Focus, Rewires Brains.

There’s impacts such as information addiction are starting to be documented, researched and understood. But we are only at the beginning of that journey. I know of a number of young people who rarely leave their bedrooms and think nothing about putting in 10 hours solid on a particular game. I know of people who can’t go for more than a few seconds without having to check-in to one or other of the social media networks. Anyone else heard the phrase Facebook widower?

Then there are impacts such as the drive to multitask even though we are awful at it and it causes us all sorts of problems. One of the more popular posts on this blog is entitled

“Multitasking is dumbing us down and driving us crazy”. I wrote that post back in 2008 and then Walter Kirn estimated that workers wasted 28 percent of their time "dealing with multitasking related transitions and interruptions". Multitasking has become a huge epidemic everything from the woman who was driving behind me yesterday while on the phone (in her hand) and doing her lipstick through to the conference calls which you know would only take 10 minutes if everyone just concentrated.

There is immerging evidence to show that the brain of digital natives is different to that of digital immigrants like myself, but do we know that’s a good thing?

There’s also the physical impact that I know a number of people are already experiencing, I explain my experience with in blogs about Tension Headaches. There’s also the current conversation and research on the dangers of sitting for long periods of time.

It’s time to look after ourselves and especially to look after our brain.

(I was amazed how much I had written on this subject once I started looking into it, but I’ve kept the post short because I know how short an attention span you all have Smile)

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