For me, this Monday didn’t turn out to be the productive day I wanted it to be, due to various electronic distractions, but despite this I don’t believe that social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, amongst other various Internet delights, are in fact leading us to be less productive.
On Sky News last Sunday, they reported that a study from the University of Northampton suggests that people are becoming addicted to there gadgets.
The scenarios they give are worryingly familiar.
Interrupted from our primary task by a pop-up alerting us to an email, we stop what we are doing to read the email.
That then directs us elsewhere, perhaps to another link on the internet.
We may then check other emails stacked up behind the new one. A quick look on Facebook, Twitter or something else, and it may be half an hour before we’re back to that primary task.
“You can not any more do effectively the task you were originally doing, even if it was routine,” Professor Kakabadse said.
“You will suddenly feel low energy, you become clumsy and you have a spatial disorder. You become exhausted,” she said. (Sky News)
This sort of reporting regarding technology hardly new, neigh it is expected, take for example the scares around televisions. In relation to this story, which is nothing special; it seems to have only got coverage due to the PR department at the University of Northampton, I would suggest that you can find addiction in almost anything from cheese to stamp collecting from computer gaming to knitting.
It is of my opinion, and partly that of Russel M Davies from Wired magazine UK, that distraction may infact aid productivity. We were not designed to work solely on one task, as Davies points out, “we’re easily distracted creatures, evolved to be continually scanning for new stimuli…” I personally find that when doing creative work. i.e. not reading, it is much easier to do it with the occasional look at YouTube, the occasional bit of tweeting on twitter and the occasional stumble on stumble-upon. This personal affirmation seems to be proved plausible by a study pointed out by Davies who states that:
A study from the universities of Harvard and Toronto suggests that people with reduced latent inhibition are more likely to have original thoughts than the rest of us. Latent inhibition is “the capacity to screen from conscious awareness stimuli previously experienced as irrelevant”. I think this means that imaginative people are worse at screening out the world than you and me. Or better at being distracted. So maybe we mortals can increase our originality by deliberately and purposefully using distracting and unfocused tools. (Wired Magazine UK)
I must now end this blog post and get some work done, well, I’m going to have a quick look at facebook first, naturally.