Archive for November, 2013

Task Master Passed

November 11, 2013

Lunghu has been too busy these past few weeks, doing too many things (one after another), to have noticed the death last week of Stanford professor Clifford Nass.  This man is Lunghu’s personal hero because he alone had the courage to stand up in the face of strident 21st-century workplace propaganda and proclaim that humans who attempt a “multi-tasking” lifestyle are playing a fool’s game:

Nass earned a B.A. cum laude in mathematics from Princeton University in 1981. He then conducted research in the areas of computer graphics, data structures and database design for IBM and Intel. He has published more than 150 papers in the areas of human-computer interaction, statistical methodology, and organizational theory.  His [later] research found that people who try to multitask using digital devices are deprived of the ability to concentrate and cause harm to their brains: “They’re suckers for irrelevancy — multitaskers love irrelevancy. They get distracted constantly. [And] multitaskers are very disorganized in keeping their memory going.”

“There are a few things humans can do at the same [time], two things at the same time our brains can do, but not any of the things we think about as multitasking. Your brain can use two words at the same time.  So if someone’s speaking to you, and somebody else is [also] speaking to you, we can listen to both at the same time; [or] if you’re reading and someone’s talking to you.  In the case of music, it’s a little different. We have a special part of our brain for music, so we can listen to music while we do other things. But in general, no, our brain can’t do two things at once.”

“It turns out multitaskers are terrible at every aspect of multitasking. They’re terrible at ignoring irrelevant information; they’re terrible at keeping information in their head nicely and neatly organized; and they’re terrible at switching from one task to another. One would think that if people were bad at multitasking, they would stop. However, when we talk with these multitaskers, they seem to think they’re great at it and seem totally unfazed and totally able to do more and more and more. … Virtually all multitaskers think they are brilliant at multitasking. And one of the big discoveries here is, you know what? You’re really lousy at it.”


Scariest aspect of all?  Multitaskers –addicted to irrelevance and easily distracted– may also be more likely to vote Republican.   Muah-ha-ha!

Fun Fact:

Even though Professor Nass was a nice Jewish boy from New Jersey,

Nass is an Arabic word meaning “a known, or clear, legal injunction.”