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“How about someone who answers all his e-mail…but develops a heart problem?”

December 4th, 2004 · No Comments

I liked this article in Sunday’s Seattle Times titled too connected [are we multitasking ourselves to death?]

The article focusses on David Levy, a professor in the University of Washington’s School of Information as well as the technological rapids of cognitive overload.

Today, we can do more. And do more, faster. And do more, faster, from anywhere, all the time. You can work at home or the coffee shop or even the beach. Is this a good thing? How do we navigate these rapids without eventually drowning? Are we allowing life to be the sum of tasks, the short term always the priority? Are we so connected that we’re actually disconnected? And has anyone had enough time to focus long enough to mull a question that requires a long, complicated answer — if there is one?

Levy, whose Ph.D work at Stanford was in computer science and artificial intelligence, has made it his mission to ask these questions.

He’s already hosted a conference — titled “Information, Silence and Sanctuary” — that pulled together an unlikely roster that included not only technologists and sociologists but a storyteller and a cardiologist, a poet, an economist, a monk and a CEO. Now he is working to create the Center for Information and the Quality of Life — a living laboratory where work and workspaces are constantly studied, redefined and redesigned so that well-being is an equal to labor. He has chosen the perfect place for such an ambitious plan in Seattle, which is part technology, part caffeine, part rolled-up-sleeves simplicity.

“Part of what’s missing from our discussion about technology, even the technology in relation to our lives, is a more positive vision of where we’re trying to get to,” he says. “What are the measurements and criteria of well-being in the workplace? How do we even begin to talk about that? How about someone who answers all his e-mail and makes all his sales calls, but develops a heart problem? What is that?”

Tags: geek

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