Monday, January 28, 2008

Multi-Tasking considered harmful - not

In which the author blames multi-tasking for

The Iraq quagmire. The mess in Afghanistan. Failure to capture Osama. A car crash. The breakup with his girlfriend. Problems with his new girlfriend. Sexual disappointment. Failure to obtain cheap airplane tickets to San Francisco. His bosses failure to pay attention during a face-to-face. Enron.

The scientists call this ruinous mental lurching “dual task interference,” or just plain bottlenecking. I call it the reason Keven Federline cost me a cheap flight to San Francisco. (It also explains, perhaps, why sexual threesomes are often disappointing.)

I just wish the military understood the concept. They might understand then why “walking and chewing gum” in Afghanistan and Iraq is no way to catch bin Laden.

Right. 'Cause we sure 'nuff had problems fighting Japan and Germany at the same time, fifty years ago. For that matter I worked for units that did complicated and diverse stuff all the time. It is as if getting stuff done across the world with hundreds of thousands of troops is just a bit more complicated than pulling a fum-ducker and driving your car off the road while looking a nekkid photo of your girlfriend on your cell phone.

I'm sure it plays well around the campfire with all the scouts nodding wisely and learnedly. But I ain't buying it.


It is true that when you try to multi-task it becomes enormously more difficult to do anything that requires actual thought.

Adults compensate for this by turning off the phone, not looking at email, setting distractions aside and getting on with stuff.

Cross Posted to The Daily Brief.

Update: Tom Bridge has another take on this, here.
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