Plugged-in and distracted? It's a question.

ACM Technews from Dec 29, 2004 has an entry titled "Life Interrupted: Plugged Into It All, We're Stressed to Distraction" that talks about "cognitive overload" and the stress many people feel resulting from multitasking and data and information overload related to our use of increasingly sophisticated technologies. The article quotes Professor David Levy (University of Washington), who says, "Part of what's missing from our discussion about technology, even the technology in relation our lives, is a more positive vision of where we're trying to get to. What are the measurements and criteria of well-being in the workplace? How do we even begin to talk about that?"

The Technews summary points to a longer article in The Seattle Times Magazine that is well worth reading.

More recently, Mary Hodder reflected on managing information overload. She mentioned her experience that skimming many sources reduced her anxiety about keeping up and yielded deep understanding. I find that an interesting speculation, but I don't really understand how that works. It's not my experience. The comments on Mary's posting are also informative.

But maybe whether or not skimming is a good practice is really a question of what I trying to do. For me, right now, engaging deeply with books and news is more valuable. So I'm choosing what I skim very deliberatively -- quantity can't do it for me.