Re: Microsoft Says Short Attention Spans Are Fine
Like Mr. Carr, I've often felt this way over the last decade, and not without awareness of how it connected with my digital lifestyle. If I'm watching a recorded TV show, I often find myself pausing it to check how much time is left before the end. Why? I wanted to watch it, didn't I? I find myself missing the natural break commercials gave me to get up and move around. Maybe that's the part advertisers are worried about (I was glad to see you note the study was carried out for advertising purposes) - on the plus side, streaming video gives them the option to insert fewer commercials more frequently to hold that attention span - annoying for me, but it does keep me put. The full study put it like this: "digital lifestyles deplete the ability to remain focused on a single task, particularly in non-digital environments."
That means, though, that we don't necessarily have as much trouble staying focused if we are in a digital environment. I've noticed this to be true for me as well. Matches in some online games can last upwards of 40 minutes, but I (and many of my generation) have no problem giving that my full attention - but that's with constant audiovisual stimulation, mouse-clicking, typing, voice chatting, etc, all at once. I've appreciated how this can be a dangerous trend, but looking at this study and the amount of multitasking involved, I'm seeing the upshoot. A generation of people who could apply that to productivity could be great. Imagine that youngster who checks his phone at dinner grows up to be someone who simply texts his boss 'yes, I can do that' instead of interrupting the whole family's dinner with a ten minute phone call. That's not so bad.