While writing this blog entry, I was distracted four times. I got a message on Facebook; I re-checked my work e-mail; I checked something on Wikipedia; I got a text from a friend. That number could easily increase by the time of posting.
So when Nicholas Carr took a moment near the end of his book “The Shallows” to digress on how difficult he had found it to write a 200+ page book in our modern day and age, with its endless distractions, I sympathized. Writing now after 10,000 hours of practice is harder than when I first started writing professionally a decade ago (though clearly I’ve improved my hyperlinking skills).
Our high plasticity brains are at least partially responsible for that. They adapt to the environments they find themselves in, as Carr points out in his book, and so it is that the process of writing comes in irregular bursts of information—just as information generally comes to us these days.
So what happens as our information becomes increasingly rapid in its delivery and execution? How will our brains adapt to this style of information gathering? Will long-form articles and books disappear? Will our thought processes fundamentally change? How much of a choice do we even have in deciding how we process information? Like Carr, I have no answers, but it’s a question that we must keep exploring.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a Facebook debate to attend to. Assuming I don’t get distracted by this YouTube video first.