So I had my friend write an email for me last night, in response to a Craigslist ad because I was interested in purchasing some area rugs. I am very close to caving right now because I am worried that there is some kind of time-sensitive communique that will screw up something large if I do not respond to it. Maybe someone is stealing my identity? Maybe I won a million dollars and I have to respond within 5 business days or I'll forfeit the winnings? Maybe a professor is trying to get some information from me by next week?
This kind of feeling is incredibly uncomfortable. I may either give my account information to a trusted friend and have them look for anything important or I may just go in myself for a few moments to make sure there's nothing dire. Or not. At any rate, although I knew this before hand, I now have a visceral understanding of why telling people to use email less is never going to work (that is pretty much the point of the Tyranny of Email. It is a solid read full of good quotes but the solutions to email overload that the author are difficult to enact.)
Labels: book reviews, design explorations12.03.2009 // 1 Comments // READ FULL POST...
So I planned on reading a ton of books this summer... or at least 11. I gave a crack at 4 and barely opened the other 7, but here they are, in glorious alphabetical order (which unfortunately means the bitchiest sounding book is first):
Bauerlein, Mark. The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don't Trust Anyone Under 30). New York: Tarcher, 2008.
Beck, John C., and Thomas H. Davenport. The Attention Economy: Understanding the New Currency of Business. New York: Harvard Business School Press, 2002.
Crary, Jonathan. Suspensions of Perception: Attention, Spectacle, and Modern Culture (October Books). London: The Mit Press, 2001.
Gallagher, Winifred. Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life. New York: Penguin Press, 2009.
Jackson, Maggie. Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 2009.
James, William. "The Principles of Psychology ." Classics in the History of Psychology. http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/James/Principles/index.htm (accessed August 25, 2009).
Klein, Naomi. No Logo: No Space, No Choice, No Jobs. New York, NY: Picador, 2002.
Lanham, Richard A.. The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of Information (Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology). Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 2006.
Meyer, David E. Attention and Performance. Volume XIV.. London: The Mit Press, 1993.
Meyrowitz, Joshua. No Sense of Place: The Impact of Electronic Media on Social Behavior. New York: Oxford University Press, USA, 1986.
Zielinski, Siegfried. Deep Time of the Media: Toward an Archaeology of Hearing and Seeing by Technical Means (Electronic Culture: History, Theory, and Practice). London: The Mit Press, 2008.
While I've complained enough about Rapt, I've also dived into Suspensions of Perception, one of the attention economy books, a bit of the William James and a crack of Attention and Performance, largest book ever.
We were also tasked with writing a little introduction to what we're thinking about for our theses so I'll post that here. It's rough but it's as good as introduction as I'm going to write today.
The direction for my thesis work is attention and the lack of space within the context of media and information overload. Attention as a subject has changed dramatically since the 1800s and the Industrial Revolution. In recent years there has been a near explosion in media types and new technologies. I find, however, that these new media and technologies do very little to simplify existence or create space–something I find lacking in current society. Tech seems to over-complicate, fracture and otherwise indefinitely distract people. By researching attention from both a theoretical/philosophical standpoint and from a scientific/technical standpoint I hope to find ways to use current technology to alleviate the strain of media. In very simple terms I want to take what people are discovering about cognitive science and attention and use it to design, redesign or make obsolete a current time-consuming system. Right now I am thinking of language-based multitasking and what kinds of verbal tasks might be otherwise directed in tactile tasks, the kinds of things your muscles learn to do. This could, however, change with more research. The desired result of such a project is to help create space in one’s life.
I wrote a couple more lines but this is the majority. Also, I'm vaguely referring to my thoughts on tangible computing in the second to last line but only because I really have not researched anything enough to know how useful sorting email with one's fingers would actually be. Would it be anything other than novel to have, say, an email bracelet that changed texture when you got a new email so you could effectively ignore spams, mailing list emails and bulk mail while paying attention to personal letters and whatnot? I don't know. It might be cool but it could be totally useless or worse, complicate an already complicated and irritating system.
Labels: book reviews, random ideas, reading list8.28.2009 // 0 Comments // READ FULL POST...
The further I get into this book, the more it feels like I'm reading self-help. While it seems to be a very well-researched book–every other paragraph mentions research by person X at institution Y doing Z things–there isn't much discussion of the experiments beyond a sentence or two, there are no references or footnotes–which I often enjoy reading more than the textthemselves–and there's no discussion of how the experiments were performed. Basically the book so far has told me "hey, scientists say if you spend your time focusing on being happy, you'll be happier." It's a great sentiment but at this point only my stubborn distaste for quitting is preventing me from dropping the book entirely.
I am, however, really looking forward to random books I've picked up like Suspensions of Perception by Jonathan Crary and of course I really should've started my research with The Principles of Psychology by William James.
Labels: book reviews, reading list, related links7.14.2009 // 0 Comments // READ FULL POST...
And yet there's no reason to let it waste. I am currently reading Rapt by Winifred Gallagher. It is not as research and science heavy as I would like it to be but it's... fun, so far. It remains to be seen if there will be anything in here that is of much use to my thesis. Still, it's fun to know that LSD helps remove a person's ability to sort and prioritize their attention so all the information about their environment is slamming them in the face at once. Heh.
Labels: book reviews, reading list7.08.2009 // 0 Comments // READ FULL POST...
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