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attention defecit machines

From New Scientist:

A bunch of sources are reporting on a University College London study into how people born after the arrival of the internet – sometimes dubbed the Google generation – handle information. The top line is, they’re not very good at it.

Although skilled at quickly searching for information they are bad at processing it, the study concludes, mentioning their “impatience in search and navigation, and zero tolerance for any delay in satisfying their information needs”. This worries the researchers who say libraries and educational institutions have to react.

Forgetting “good” or “bad” … what will this mean, I wonder? I notice all these symptoms in myself, and I grew up on books and playing outside.


  1. Mat Mat 2008-02-06

    Since the study, by definition, studies only kids I think it’s hard to factor out the natural ADD-ness inherent to youth…

    But you’re right, I see plenty of these symptoms in myself as well. I don’t think it’s health on the whole. Certainly, I’m taking in a LOT more information than I used to, but I’m not sure how deeply I’m processing it all (am I capable?).

    I try to mix it up by prioritizing other, quiet times… this allows to assimilate thoughts.

    I try to bounce ideas (that I read, and generate) off other, non-techy people… to get a sanity check. This is quite useful.

    It’s too easy to read snippet-y content online, so I try to force myself to get through juicier (longer) morsels amidst my reading. By varying this, I think it shuffles up the mental juices.

    As long as kids can 1) be aware of the negative aspects of the information firehose; and 2) evolve their own set of tricks that help them extract maximum value from that flow, then I think things will work out fine. This needs to be worked into the education system though, because it may not be a natural outcome

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