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October 16, 2005

Science of interruption

Clive Thompson chases the advancements in the science of interruption. (I interrupted myself to read that article and then got interrupted quickly before I could finish reading it completely.)

Anyways here are few interesting tidbits from the article -

Information is no longer a scarce resource - attention is. David Rose, a Cambridge, Mass.-based expert on computer interfaces, likes to point out that 20 years ago, an office worker had only two types of communication technology: a phone, which required an instant answer, and postal mail, which took days. "Now we have dozens of possibilities between those poles," Rose says. How fast are you supposed to reply to an e-mail message? Or an instant message? Computer-based interruptions fall into a sort of Heisenbergian uncertainty trap: it is difficult to know whether an e-mail message is worth interrupting your work for unless you open and read it - at which point you have, of course, interrupted yourself. Our software tools were essentially designed to compete with one another for our attention, like needy toddlers.

About this I am not sure how worried I should be -

The near-term answer to the question will come when Vista, Microsoft's new operating system, is released in the fall of 2006. Though Czerwinski and Horvitz are reluctant to speculate on which of their innovations will be included in the new system, Horvitz said that the system will "likely" incorporate some way of detecting how busy you are. But he admitted that "a bunch of features may not be shipping with Vista." He says he believes that Microsoft will eventually tame the interruption-driven workplace, even if it takes a while. "I have viewed the task as a 'moon mission' that I believe that Microsoft can pull off," he says.

Hopefully they will not end up creating another annoying clip art joke.

Attention problem is another side of the same coin. Attention scarcity and along with the increase in different kinds of  interruptions pose big drag on the overall productivity.

October 16, 2005 in Emerging Technologies | Permalink


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Tracked on Apr 26, 2006 7:57:03 PM


ahmm.. never thought before... information versus attention realtion... attention is inversely proportional to information !! but what is life but a series of informations.... and i guess attention is like spotlight... u just need to tain it on the right spot

Posted by: krishna | Oct 16, 2005 10:01:02 PM

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