Archive for August, 2007

15
Aug
07

Continuous Partial Attention

As we take on more and more information at the same time – watching TV whilst writing an email for example, our attention – or lack of – is becoming more important.

Particls is a new desktop ticker which displays headlines and snapshots of all the RSS feeds you subscribe to. I just started using it at the beginning of last week and it’s brilliant, so I subscribed to their blog…

Here’s a post from their blog on Continuous Partial Attention:

Stowe has recently written about his ideas of ‘Flow’ and Continuous Partial Attention (CPA).

His premise is that we are not necessarily information saturated – that our brains are evolving to a point where we can let the information flow over us and stay continuously partially attentive to many things at the same time. He claims that this is a perfectly natural change in our concentration and mental abilities.

He writes about Linda Stone – an expert in CPA.

“Linda and many others will tell us it will rot our teeth, disrupt family life, and lead to hair on our palms. I for one am not eager to turn off my devices and pay all my attention to one thing at a time, one moment at a time. There are too many targets on the horizon, too many members of the tribe, and too many jaguars lurking in the shadows for that. In my tribe, we don’t do things that way.”

I’m young – my brain can handle it for now – so I agree with Stowe (to a point). Information (particularly news) should flow – not pool. An information flow (river of news, news ticker, popup alerts) is typically more effective than reading news in a folder/item email style metaphor.

An Attention Profiling markup language has been created APML similar in principle to OPML which is used to list all the RSS feeds I subscribe to.