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Sunday, October 30, 2005
Jon Udell, one of my favourites writes that modern humans may not be able to get rid of the constant interruptions in our day, but can manage them better. He elaborates that people are the exception handlers in all automated workflows, and intelligence and judgment won’t be automated anytime soon. The challenge may be in finding how to connect people and services. Managing that scarcest of resources, our attention, is a huge challenge. Jon argues that all of us have preferences, so it’s vital that people choose which channel to be interrupted on.But stuffing the same messages down one channel or another doesn’t alter the nature of those messages, or reduce the total effort required to process them. He rightly points out that we’ll need to tap our latent visual, auditory, tactile, and maybe even olfactory abilities. Today’s notification systems make poor use of that rich sensorium. One of Microsoft researchers’ key findings was that use of multiple large monitors helps information workers avoid context switches, making them more productive. Expanding the field over which our visual pattern recognizer can range is a good idea, but it only scratches the surface of what’s possible. More importantly, we need to enrich those visual patterns. The visual cortex can absorb dense information displays as Edward Tufte points out, those displays are carefully designed.Living in a state of continous partial attention may not be the end state. As Linda stone says that that the next aphrodisiac is committed full-attention focus, where experiencing this engaged attention is to feel alive. Trusted filters, trusted protectors, trusted concierge, human or technical, removing distractions and managing boundaries, filtering signal from noise, enabling meaningful connections, that make us feel secure, are the opportunity for the next generation. Opportunity will be the tools and technologies to take our power back. This may need other convergent forces - sociological and economical to operate in alignment with this technological advance. Jon recommends that if continuous partial attention is the permanent new reality, let’s engineer our interruptions to be subtle, natural, and pleasing to the senses An important area of development that all bright minds need to focus on with IT & Pervasive technologies virtually domianting everyone aspect of life in this era of presence.
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