Friday, June 09, 2006

One Thing at a Time and the Multitasking Myth

On multitasking...

"We can talk on a cell phone while driving to work, and we can compose complex sentences while typing. But, if you stop to reflect on it, you can only do those things at the same time because at least one of them is automatic. In the first case driving is automatic, and in the second case typing is automatic. You've done them so often that you've habituated to them: doing them doesn't require any thinking. Can you still talk on your cell phone while driving through a rainstorm on unfamiliar roads? Would you still be able to concentrate on writing if you had just switched to a Dvorak keyboard? I didn't think so.

In both cases the extreme situation frustrates your habits and forces you to actively think about what you are doing at the expense of your other task. When you are thinking about driving safely in adverse conditions, you can't also hold a conversation. And while you're searching for the "e" key, you can't also compose the next line of your sonnet.

Still not convinced? Then try this experiment: Think about the about the taste of chocolate (that glorious silky rush of sweet earthy flavor) at the exact same time as you add 47 and 56. Really try. At the same time. If it makes your brain fuzzy in the way your mouth feels after you've had an unripe banana, you're in good company: it's impossible. You can switch back and forth really quickly, but you can't actually think about both things at the same time."   continued ...   (Via Humanized)

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