September 1, 2009

Multitasking — Lee Rainie on Kojo Nnamdi’s talk show

I was part of an hour-long radio talk show exploring the implications of new research by Clifford Nass and colleagues at Stanford University. The research showed that heavy multitaskers are worse than light multitaskers at filtering information, storing and organizing information, and switching back and forth among several activities.

The program can be accessed here. And the guest host was smart, funny Rebecca Roberts.

It was a good show for several reasons: I got to quote my friend Linda Stone’s insight that people now live in a state of “continuous partial attention” which is very stressful. I got to canabalize a Stephen Stills’ phrase: ”If teens can’t be with the tech device they love, they love the device they’re with.” I got to mention Kenneth Gergen’s observation that new-media social encounters often amount to “absent presence.”

The best moment if the show was a caller who was multitasking as he talked about the problems of multitasking. He was moving his car forward into a vehicle inspection line even as he posed his question and you can hear is car bell ringing as he talked to us — the car door was open as moved forward in the inspection line.

My one regret is that I couldn’t affirm and add to a point Professor Nass made in response to a caller who talked about mothers as multitaskers. My wife was — and is — an Olympic champion at that.