Suspending Disbelief

Everything we know, our strongly held beliefs, and in some cases, even what we consider to be “factual,” creates the lens through which we see and experience the world, and can contribute to a critical, reactive orientation.  This can serve us well.  For example:  Fire is hot; it can burn me if I touch it.  These strongly held beliefs can also compromise our ability to observe and to think in an expansive, generative way.

Every year, John Brockman, asks a community of academics and thought leaders, a question, and posts the responses on Edge.org.  This year’s question was:

What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit?

My response:  Suspending Disbelief

Barbara McClintock was ignored and ridiculed, by the scientific community, for thirty-two years before winning a Nobel Prize in 1984, for discovering “jumping genes.” During the years of hostile treatment by her peers, McClintock didn’t publish, preferring to avoid the rejection of the scientific community. Stanley Prusiner faced significant criticism from his colleagues until his prion theory was confirmed. He, too, went on to win a Nobel Prize in 1982.

Barry Marshall challenged the medical “fact” that stomach ulcers were caused by acid and stress; and presented evidence that H. Pylori bacteria is the cause. Marshall is quoted as saying, “Everyone was against me.”

Progress in medicine was delayed while these “projective thinkers” persisted, albeit on a slower and lonelier course.

Projective thinking is a term coined by Edward de Bono to describe generative rather than reactive thinking. McClintock, Prusiner, and Marshall offered projective thinking; suspending their disbelief regarding accepted scientific views at the time.

Articulate, intelligent individuals can skillfully construct a convincing case to argue almost any point of view. This critical, reactive use of intelligence narrows our vision. In contrast, projective thinking is expansive, “open-ended” and speculative, requiring the thinker to create the context, concepts, and the objectives.

Twenty years of studying maize created a context within which McClintock could speculate. With her extensive knowledge and keen powers of observation, she deduced the significance of the changing color patterns of maize seed. This led her to propose the concept of gene regulation, which challenged the theory of the genome as a static set of instructions passed from one generation to the next.

The work McClintock first reported in 1950, the result of projective thinking, extensive research, persistence, and a willingness to suspend disbelief, wasn’t understood or accepted until many years later.

Everything we know, our strongly held beliefs, and, in some cases, even what we consider to be “factual,” creates the lens through which we see and experience the world, and can contribute to a critical, reactive orientation. This can serve us well: Fire is hot; it can burn if touched. It can also compromise our ability to observe and to think in an expansive, generative way.

When we cling rigidly to our constructs, as McClintock’s peers did, we can be blinded to what’s right in front of us. Can we support a scientific rigor that embraces generative thinking and suspension of disbelief? Sometimes science fiction does become scientific discovery.

 

 

The Look & Feel of Conscious Computing

With a musical instrument, it’s awkward at first.  All thumbs.  Uncomfortable.   Noise.  With practice, the musician becomes self-contained vs. consumed by the instrument; co-creating music.  So it will be with personal technology.  Now, a prosthetic of mind, it will become a prosthetic of being.  A violinist with a violin.  Us with our gadgets, embodied, attending as we choose.

Playing Video Games When the Power is Out

I haven’t always been a fan of video games.   I’m a fan of getting outside, enjoying fresh air, exploring tide pools, walking on a trail or in the park.  I love cooking, baking and crafting.   It just never occurred to me that adding more hours in front of a screen could be a path to joy.

Over the years, in over the shoulder mode, I’ve loved watching friends of all ages engage — with a full on passion and joy, and my latest HuffPo post describes one such moment.

TEDxMidwest

These last few months, I’ve linked up with Mike Hettwer  to create TEDxMidwest.    On a flight to Chicago now and super excited about the terrific speakers and great friends who plan to join us in the inaugural year of this event.

Special thanks to Chris Anderson, TED Conferences, for his vision and for offering a program for local TEDx events.   Special thanks to the TEDx team for their support, with a special shout out to Lara Stein and Ronda Carnegie.

How Did You Play?

This past weekend, at SciFoo 2010, during one of Nat Torkington’s Lightning Rounds, I had a chance to talk about childhood play patterns of scientists, of all of us, and about the benefits of self-directed play.  Here’s an earlier blog post on the topic.

Please join the discussion in the Talk To Me section of this blog, and share how you played as a child. Alone?  Social?  Both?  Were you a builder and a maker?  Did you create your own experiments? Did you have favorite objects?    Do tell!

https://lindastone.net/talk-to-me/

Dee Hock’s 1996 Quote…

Those who have heard me speak know that I often quote Dee Hock, the Founder of Visa, and one of the great business innovators of our time.

I use his quote below to describe how technology is evolving us, how we’re evolving technology and how both are evolving culture.

  • Noise becomes data when it has a cognitive pattern.
  • Data becomes information when assembled into a coherent whole, which can be related to other information.
  • Information becomes knowledge when integrated with other information in a form useful for making decisions and determining actions.
  • Knowledge becomes understanding when related to other knowledge in a manner useful in anticipating, judging and acting.
  • Understanding becomes wisdom when informed by purpose, ethics, principles, memory and projection.

Further, I map this evolution to a timeline:

1945-1965

Noise to Data

1965-1985

Data to Information

1985-2005

Information to Knowledge

2005-2025

Knowledge to Understanding

2025-2045

Understanding to Wisdom

Today, we are Knowledge Workers evolving into Understanding Workers.  Understanding Workers use technology to anticipate, judge and act.  Think about it.  This is what we’re doing with FitBit, Quantified Self, 23andMe.com, Facebook, and so many other technologies of this era.

As we move into an Era of Conscious Computing, we’ll also be moving deeper into Understanding and closer toward Wisdom.

iPads Everywhere!

O’Reilly Media hosted yet another invitation-only, mind-bending, inspiring, fun Foo Camp.

In years past, we’ve enjoyed these unconference sessions, laptops glowing, perched on laps, on tables.  Technology everywhere.  Notes being taken, emails and tweets constantly flowing.

This year, Sara Winge pointed out, “open laptops were rare in sessions.”   iPads were everywhere.  “They sit flat on laps and tables, like paper,” Caterina Fake mentioned that and the contrast to screens as barriers between people.

People appear to sit comfortably, posture and breathing less stressed while using the iPad.  Some have specifically commented to me that while they notice they have email apnea when using their laptops, they breathe easily when using their iPad.

In the slow news session moderated by Steven Levy, Jennifer 8 Lee, and Kevin Kelly, the iPad as a platform for news and magazines was one of the topics debated.

It was during that debate that I realized — Apple has done for reading what the iPod has done for music.  We tune out the world, that 24/7, always-on world, once we engage with our iPods.  The iPad is the iPod of reading.  The world around us disappears when we engage with it.

The iPad, so gorgeous, with such a natural interface, offers the same opportunity.   Particularly in the case of the brilliantly designed (by Schulze and Webb) Bonnier magazines.  The world around me disappeared when I dropped into this iPad magazine experience.

I don’t have an iPad (yet).  I’ve enjoyed noticing the impact it’s having at various high tech gatherings as well as on less techie friends, many of whom seem to be making this their primary platform.

Conscious Computing

Personal technologies today are prosthetics for our minds.   Our opportunity is to create personal technologies that are prosthetics for our beings.  Conscious computing is post-productivity, post-communication era computing.  Personal technologies that enhance our lives.  Personal technologies that are prosthetics of our full human potential.

Read more…

More on Intentions and Goals

Thank you for the interesting comments and insights on intentions vs. goals.   In thinking about this today, I realized —

Intentions happen in the present.  Goals are about the future.

Where does behavior change?  In the present.

Where does intention come from?   For me, goals come from the mind.  Intentions from the heart, from emotion, from feeling.

Can one choose to have an intention or must it emerge more naturally?

How does this relate to attention?  Intention is the most powerful force driving attention.

Celebrating Sara!

A lovely piece about Sara Winge, who, along with, visionary, Tim O’Reilly, is a force for good in high tech and beyond.

While we’re at it, we can also raise a glass to Tim!

Thank you both — so appreciative of all you do for us, for the community, the industry, and technology as a force for positive change.

Intentions & Goals

How does an intention form and gather energy?  Is a goal an intention without the passion? Is a goal from the mind only and an intention from our entire being?

For you, talk to me about intentions — what they are, how they form and gather energy…

Thank you.

Kids, Video Games, Posture & Breathing

One of my favorite 8 year olds can’t get enough of his Wii.  I enjoy this child and hung out with him recently while he played his favorite video game.  He was hunched over on the sofa and I promise you, his breathing was undetectable.  With some coaxing, he moved to a wooden chair.  For the first 3 minutes, he sat up straight, then he smiled at me, said, “I like to slouch,” and continued his game slouched in the wooden chair.

Did I mention that this is how he spent his Saturday morning  just before going to an appointment with the doctor helping him with his ADHD issues?

Shallow breathing and temporary breath holding up regulates the sympathetic or fight or flight nervous system response.  I call this email apnea.  If your child has ADHD or impulse control issues and also hunches in front of a computer or video game or in front of the television, it might be time to consider an intervention that involves teaching a breathing technique that up regulates the parasympathetic or rest and digest response.

I recently spent some time playing with the HeartMath emWave Desktop software.  With short games, a player  manages his/her breathing pattern as part of game play.

At TEDMED 2009, Dr. Daniel Siegel mentioned research he’d conducted using breath training to manage ADHD.

Sometimes pharmaceuticals are the most effective option for treating a condition.   In many cases, for conditions involving impulse control, regulation of emotions, ADHD and other attention issues, it may be worth looking into options that help”re-set” the autonomic nervous system:  various breathing techniques, Buteyko, Feldenkrais, Alexander Technique, cranial-sacral, and certain forms of acupuncture.

Performance, particularly dance and music, often involve training in breathing techniques.  The same is true for certain sports.

The way we breathe is central in regulation of attention and emotion, cognition and memory, and social and emotional intelligence.

The Sunset of the PC?

Today, I don’t own an iPad.  Last week, I had no intention of buying one anytime soon.  The Wall Street Journal, All Things Digital, D8 Conference, has seriously cracked my resolve.

Lisa Gold, showed me her iPad a few weeks ago, and talked about her experience with the iPad:

“When I use it, I don’t have email apnea because I sit or recline comfortably, I’m relaxed, and I breathe. When I’m sitting at my desk, in a chair, staring at my computer screen and clutching my mouse, I’m physically uncomfortable and I often find myself holding my breath and feeling slightly anxious. Instead of forcing my body to adapt to the demands of the computer, iPad adapts to me and the different ways I want to use it. My iPad can’t completely replace my computer, but I find myself using iPad more and the computer less. And it has made me much more aware of how using a computer affects my body.”

More on The End of the PC?  here.

It’s Not the WHAT, it’s the HOW…

Recently, Nicholas Carr wrote a piece:  The Web Shatters Focus, Rewires Brains.

Can we really know that’s true?  It’s the web?  Is this a declaration of war on technology?  After all, it’s shattering focus and rewiring our brains, according to Carr.

My latest Huffington Post piece, Are We at War with Technology, considers the relationship between the WHAT (technology), the HOW (how we’re using it) and the human (us).

Parenting and Managing; Evolving Practices

I was surprised when a couple of Highly Regarded Silicon Valley folks, canceled a leadership themed dinner due to lack of interest.

Is this an interesting topic to the current generation of CEO’s and senior executives — especially those under 40?  I asked a serial entrepreneur, CEO friend of mine:   “Not so much,” was his reply.

Reflecting on why this might be the case, I started to think about parenting, and how very different Dr. Spock’s parenting advice fifty years ago, is from one of today’s parenting gurus, Alyson Shafer, in Honey, I Wrecked the Kids:  When Yelling, Screaming, Threats, Bribes, Time-Outs, Sticker Charts, and Removing Privileges All Don’t Work.

I’m still working through my thoughts on this.  However, I’m coming to believe that by looking at how parenting practices have changed over time, we can learn a lot about how management practices have and might continue to evolve.

For those familiar with today’s parenting guidance, and working in the business world — do you have insights and stories to share?

Are You Ready for the 21st Century?

In a provocative video, Michael Cartier offers a snapshot of four possible worlds in which we may choose to live:

1.  Consumerist

2.  Renewed Participative Democracy

3.  Environmentally Conscious

4.  Oligarchic Soft Facism (security state)

The video can be viewed here.

Thoughts?  Comments?

What is Dying to be Born?

A few weeks ago, when I checked my inbox, there was an email from Lianne Raymond.   Her request:

I am asking you, as one of the women I look to for thought leadership, to contribute your idea of “what is dying to be born” in the world right now- maybe it is already in the process of happening and you will shine the light on it – it doesn’t matter: whatever way you want to interpret that phrase is welcomed and encouraged, as part of the beauty of the end product will be our multi-faceted ways of viewing the world, with each view reflecting the others.

You are on this list because somewhere along the way you made a difference in my life through your words. So thank you so much for being a part of my life and growth, whether or not you become a part of this.

With much love,

Lianne Raymond

Click on the link below, for Linda’s page,  to read my piece on Presence in What is Dying to Be Born?

linda’s page

The link, What is Dying to be Born, will take you to the entire book:

What is Dying to be Born?

Mind & Body, War & Peace

I’ll be writing a series of posts on something that is troubling me — our personal and collective dialog about health.   We seem to be using the language of war, and our greatest opportunity is to seek peace.   We speak passionately about what we don’t want, and the joy is in the aspiration, the dreams of what we want, both for ourselves and as a larger community.

I come to this from a very personal place, as well as from a place of believing, that for all of us, nothing could matter more.

Shifting our language can shift us toward more powerful and positive possibilities.  I welcome your comments and stories here and on the Huffington Post.

Excerpt from the first post in the series:

I have grown weary of this American dialog, a dialog of mind at war with body. Mind always right, of course. Mind, the dictator. Mind, the jailer. Body, the servant. Body, the victim, of mind, the bully.

Read the rest of the post by clicking here…

FIRST + Dean Kamen = Inspiration

FIRST stands for: For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology. By 1992, Dean Kamen was becoming increasingly concerned about our ability to effectively compete in business given our declining ability to educate students in science and technology. Kamen and his friend, Dr. Woodie Flowers, had a wild idea: create a competition–now a “coopertition”–where teams of high school students, working closely with mentors, design and build a robot, in a six week period, then compete both regionally and nationally.

Continue reading…

How has the Internet Changed the Way You Think?

The physical world is where I not only see, I also feel — a friend’s loving gaze in conversation; the movement of my arms and legs and the breeze on my face as I walk outside; and the company of friends for a game night and potluck dinner. The Internet supports my thinking and the physical world supports that, as well as, rich sensing and feeling experiences.

It’s no accident we’re a culture increasingly obsessed with the Food Network and Farmer’s Markets — they engage our senses and bring us together with others.

How has the Internet changed my thinking? The more I’ve loved and known it, the clearer the contrast, the more intense the tension between a physical life and a virtual life. The Internet stole my body, now a lifeless form hunched in front of a glowing screen. My senses dulled as my greedy mind became one with the global brain we call the Internet.

Read the whole post here on O’Reilly Radar or a slightly different version, here, on the Huffington Post.

Read John Brockman’s 2010 World Question Center.  Thought leaders and scientists respond to the question:  How has the internet changed the way you think?

Comment here — write your own response.   Happy New Year!

National Lab Day: Creating a National Learning Community

When Jack Hidary told me about National Lab Day, I got chills. The tag line for National Lab Day is: A National Barn-Raising for Hands-On Learning. Using the internet and social computing technologies, with the support of the White House and the business and scientific communities, National Lab Day reaches out to the education community, providing a tool set that brings context, community, and passion to education, and that has the potential to transform our educational system into a true learning community.

Read more….

Finding Ourselves Through Play

The book that had the most impact on my thinking in 2009, was:  Play:  How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul, by Stuart Brown and Christopher Vaughan.

It inspired me to chat with Nobel Laureates, last June, at a gathering in Sweden, about their play patterns as children.   When these men talked about their work in the lab today and their childhood play patterns, it was the same conversation.   They played passionately as children and the emergent questions and interests they had as children were still central in their work, albeit more evolved.

More recently, I started carrying a Flip Video recorder with me and interviewing friends and people I meet here and there.  One friend, Mike, talked about his stamp collection — the excitement of opening the bag of envelope corners with colorful stamps affixed, the thrill of tracking on a map where each stamp was from and learning a little about each country, and the sense of possibility and curiosity about a larger world with so many different cultures.  Mike went on to major in international relations and does global policy work today.

Matt Ruff was clear from the age of five that he wanted to be a novelist.  He read voraciously, invented imaginary worlds and has confidently and successfully pursued these dreams as an adult.

Over the holidays, sitting with my mom and little sister, I began asking them what they remembered about my childhood play patterns.  “You were into everything,” my mom recalled, “You had science experiments going in the basement with mice, you baked and sold cookies door to door, you were constantly crafting and making things, and you started hosting dinner parties at the age of twelve.”    My sister remembered the science fair projects, chess club, and all the making and building projects.

I remembered being positively obsessed with the notion of infinity and with Ann Cutler’s, Instant Math, and number patterns.  My dad was a willing co-conspirator in any building project — one of the most memorable: building an incubator to hatch chicks.  I had rock, stamp, and coin collections. I loved to bake and cook from a young age, and then found ways to sell my wares in the neighborhood — my mom always made me reimburse her for cost of goods.

Working with the kids next door, we produced circus performances.  I was involved in every aspect of production, program development, marketing, logistics, and pricing, for both the entry fee and goods sold.  We also organized summer crafting programs for young kids in the neighborhood.  I loved co-creating these businesses — with neighbor kids I’m still very friendly with today (no, not through or because of FaceBook).

By age eleven, I wanted to learn how to bake bread and didn’t know anyone who could teach me.  Trial and error and fifty loaves later, I could do it blindfolded and could easily modify a recipe successfully.  If I’d done this in school, I’d have gotten a failing grade after the first few loaves.  Thanks to my parents, I could try as often as I wanted and analyze and question what was going wrong and right each time.

I read voraciously, both fiction and non-fiction, and visited the library frequently.  As a child, I created books.  As a teenager, I wrote both prose and poetry and was the editor of my high school literary magazine.

I fearlessly rode my bicycle all over the northern Chicago suburbs — seriously, everywhere.  My bicycle was my freedom.  I sang with friends in high school and later in college.

I loved to travel and between baby-sitting and a waitress job that paid fifty cents an hour plus tips, I traveled all over the U.S. and to Panama, French Canada, and Europe, as a young teenager — on my own or with friends.  I loved meeting weavers in rural Holland, drinking my first cappuccino at the age of fifteen in Panama City, and picking blueberries just outside of Chicoutimi, Quebec, Canada.  People fascinated me – I wanted to understand everything about creativity, intelligence, learning, and communication.  I still do.

All of these themes are active today, both in my work and in my play.  I taught (K-6, university) and worked as a children’s librarian the first decade of my career, spent the next two decades in high tech, where I’m still very active, and this last year, helped co-found a fresh sauces and puddings company, Abby’s Table.  I serve on many Advisory Boards, both for profit and not for profit, covering a range of areas from technology to health to education to the environment.

How are your play patterns alive today, in what you do as an adult?  Once you start writing, even a paragraph or two, about your childhood play patterns, you’ll see the power of play.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to comment on your childhood play patterns here.  What couldn’t you wait to do when you got home from school or on a Saturday? Does your work and play today share themes from your childhood play?  I hope this new decade is a decade where play is celebrated and acknowledged as the key to passion, joy and a productive and fulfilling life.

Screens R Us: When to Take a Break

Someone always stops me in the hall at a conference or asks anxiously after a talk:  How much time should I spend in front of a screen? At what point should I pull back and take a break?  Should I stop every 30 or 45 minutes?

My response is always the same:  How do you feel?  Your body is wiser than your mind in these matters.

The challenge is, most of us, especially the brainy future thinking high tech types, tend to favor the inclinations of the mind.  The mind, for many of us, is often tyrannical towards the body.  “Just stay up 3 more hours.   One more all-nighter.   A Red Bull or two and I’ll meet this deadline!  No walk until this paper is done…”

Our always-on lifestyle has favored thinking and doing.  As we move toward a lifestyle that seeks quality of life, we’ll find ourselves valuing sensing and feeling.   We see the first signs of this in the various food related movements that are gaining popularity:  slow foods, Farmer’s Markets, and preferences for artisanal and  local organic foods.

The operative questions are: How do I feel?  What would feel better?    These questions can help create a flexible, flowing workstyle that will enable the wisdom of both body and mind to come through in everything we do.

This piece also appeared on the Huffington Post.

Why Managing Vulnerability and Reputation is More Important than Ever Before

In ZG Mapping, one of the patterns that emerges suggests that as technology becomes closer and closer to us, we are less able to manage privacy at each advancing layer.  Today, through social networks, sensors, geo-location software, personal DNA testing, quantified self technologies and more, highly personal, private and intimate information about us and our relationships is more readily available than ever before.

Can we really expect to manage privacy?  Not so much.  It makes more sense to turn our efforts toward managing vulnerability and reputation.  What might that look like?  I welcome your comments.

ZG Maps track the deterioration of privacy and the increased exposure to our most intimate selves using examples for each era.  The years noted follow the ZG Maps twenty year eras.

The Public Layer:  Mainframe Computers (1945-1965)

Mainframes were operated by experts for the benefit of a select few in higher level management.  Most employees were data workers with limited access to information, dreaming of a day when information would be more available.    Example: The public was vaguely aware that Eisenhower had an affair.  Details and press were limited.

The Personal Layer:  the Personal Computer (1965-1985)

Personal computers brought information much closer to us.   The power of information, words and images, for storage and  manipulation was now on the desktop.  Example: President and Nancy Reagan used Joan Quigley as their personal astrologer.  The press reported on certain instances where Ms. Quigley’s calculations determined the timing of delicate meetings and diplomatic travel.

The Private Layer:  Mobile Devices (1985-2005)

With mobile devices, technology moved into our private space.  At the same time, increasingly private information about public figures and about ourselves became more available to others.  Example:  The press covered every detail of Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton, including their creative uses for cigars.

The Intimate Layer: Quantified Self Technologies – personal DNA testing, etc. (2005-2025)

Technologies like Navigenics and 23andme.com make personal DNA testing available to anyone interested and willing to pay.  Technologies like Zeo track our sleep patterns.  FitBit, Nike+ and DirectLife track our activity.  Geo-location technologies and sensors, track our every move.  If you’re not aware of the emergent area of quantified self technologies, check MeetUp for meetings in your area.    Example:  We can share genomic data on 23andme and adopted children can use these new technologies to find their birth parents.

Another, irresistible example given the headlines today:  We can read about every one of Tiger Woods’ lovers, read and listen to the text and voicemails exchanged, and learn a little about Tiger’s proclivities in bed.

In an era where we share our Zeo sleep data, use FourSquare to let our social network know our every move and Facebook and Twitter to share what we’re doing, what we’re thinking, who we’re connected to along with our favorite photos — what is privacy?

What can we benefit most from protecting?  My hunch is, it’s vulnerability and reputation.  What new tools and technologies support us to do this effectively?

When Distraction is Good

Distraction and procrastination come in a variety of flavors.  I’ve noticed that when I’m “distracted,” and I walk over and stare out the window, it’s a very different experience than when I feed the distraction by cramming in a few emails or make a phone call.

How often do you let your mind wander?  Are you able to give up the list in your head when you’re cooking or in the shower or taking a walk?  It’s no accident that new ideas pop into our heads when we least expect it.  In our enthusiasm to be productive, we forget to give our mind/body moments to be “receptive” — that is, open to daydreaming, open to letting our minds wander.

I call these different approaches receptive and deceptive distraction.  A longer post can be found here or here.

ZG Maps and ZG Mapping

People often say we’re multi-tasking ourselves to death.  What is it we’re doing and why has this become a passionate conversation?

I call what we’re doing today continuous partial attention, or cpa, for short.  In 1997, I created this meme to differentiate between simple and complex multi-tasking.   The motivations and the effects of simple vs. complex multi-tasking appeared to be very different to me.  I wanted a new name to describe what I was seeing in order to be very clear that when my mom was multi-tasking, she was doing something very different from what I found myself doing.

The meme, continuous partial attention, not only resonated with my colleagues in high tech and others outside of that field, it also ultimately led me into years of research – on individual and mass consciousness patterns of attention, trends, and related health and technology topics.

By now, I’ve developed what I’m calling  ZG Maps* and a process for using it called ZG Mapping. ZG Maps spans from 1945 and projects out toward 2025.   Some of the presentations I give at conferences and to corporations pull information from ZG Maps.  For corporate presentations, I often map the company’s history to the ZG Maps, illustrating when and how the company was in and out of sync with what I’ve come to call, the dominant mass consciousness attention paradigm.

In The Innovator’s Dilemma, Clayton Christensen outlines how successful companies can miss out on important disruptive technologies by focusing solely on iterating on sustaining technologies.  I admire Christensen’s work.

ZG Mapping comes at these issues from another point of view.  My favorite Alan Kay quote is:  “Point of view is worth 80 IQ points.”  Thus, coming at innovation from a variety of points of view can add IQ points!

With regard to innovation, in addition to keeping Christensen’s points in mind, I think it’s crucial for companies to also consider:

  1. How their products, services, marketing, recruiting and management efforts can resonate with cultural shifts. Attention, expressed collectively, can define a community, a society, a business, a corporate culture or a set of products and services.  Mass consciousness attention patterns are at the heart of the ZG Maps.  A set of values, orientations, and trends emerge from understanding how past patterns flow into the present patterns, and then, into likely future patterns.
  2. How the youngest generation entering the work force can play a significant role in a company’s future success. In many companies, the newest and youngest hires become trapped at the bottom of a steep management chain, engaged in menial work, with little opportunity to effectively offer one of their greatest gifts:  their knowing and sensibility of the incoming dominant mass consciousness attention paradigm.

 

 

These and other topics will be covered in future posts.

*ZG Maps:  ZG for Zeitgeist and Maps or Mapping for orientation or orienting

What is it to protect and feel protected? Boomers vs. Millenials

A couple of weeks ago, I interviewed Rebecca, a 25 year old Yale graduate.   We talked about the Era of Connection and the shift into the Era of Protection.

“An important thing to understand,” Rebecca began, ” is that my parents and I have a very different views of protection.  For my parents, protection is control: it is a 401K and equity in their home.  For me, protection is fluid and based on others: it is a rich and authentic social network.  For example, I just left a fantastic job and my parents are concerned, but, really, I’m not.  I have a rich social network of friends and mentors to guide me. I know I can count on them and that they can count on me, I have places to stay and people to connect with. Through my network, I’ll know what’s going on, find interesting opportunities and have support while I am exploring.”

Millenials grew up with social networks that grew organically. They don’t hesitate to “friend” someone from their third grade class — and then sleep on their couch as they drive across country. These kind of thing is as natural to a Millenial as a telephone was to a Boomer in his/her teen years.  Rebecca’s world view has been shaped significantly by her experiences growing up, along with her peers, as an active participant on social networks.

Douglas Atkin, founded The Glue Project.  We discussed Rebecca and he’s added his own related insights about community to this story.

Diagnosis: Email Apnea

In early 2007, at the suggestion of my M.D., I took a course in Buteyko breathing and incorporated it into my morning routine.  I would get up, take a walk, do twenty minutes of Buteyko, then, sit down at my computer to work.

Day one:  Within the first few minutes of sitting down at my computer, I noticed I was holding my breath – a huge contrast to the breathing exercises I was doing only moments before.

Day two:  Within the first few minutes of sitting down at my computer, I noticed I was holding my breath.

Day three:  This isn’t an anomaly, it’s a habit!  Does everyone do this?!

I spent the next 6-7 months observing and interviewing over 200 people.  I watched and spoke with people in their offices, in cafes, in their homes, and, roughly 80% of this sample appeared to have what I called, email apnea.   I interviewed a variety of healthcare practitioners and researchers on the physiological impacts of breath holding.  I’m grateful to these professionals for answering my questions, referring me to other professionals, and referring me to relevant research.

I posted on this on HuffPo and Radar.  The comments posted on Radar are worth reading.

Since posting the original pieces on email apnea, the Steelcase Walkstation has come on the market.   There is some evidence that we’re likely to have better posture at a standing or walking workstation.

Beyond Simple Multi-Tasking: Continuous Partial Attention

What I call continuous partial attention is referred to as complex multi-tasking in cognitive science.  Most of us don’t walk around distinguishing between simple and complex multi-tasking when we talk about our day:  “I multi-tasked all afternoon and I’m exhausted.”  “Yes, I multi-task when I drive.”  “A good chef has to multi-task.”

Were those examples of simple or complex multi-tasking?  There’s no way to know.  The differences between simple and complex multi-tasking are profound.  So, when I noticed that complex multi-tasking was increasingly pervasive in our culture, I took the liberty of giving it a new name:  continuous partial attention.   WordSpy, a fun site that tracks new words and phrases, recognizes cpa, and so does Wikipedia.

Continuous partial attention and multi-tasking are two different attention strategies, motivated by different impulses.  When we multi-task, we are motivated by a desire to be more productive and more efficient.  Each activity has the same priority  – we eat lunch AND file papers.   We stir the soup AND talk on the phone.  With simple multi-tasking, one or more activities is somewhat automatic or routine, like eating lunch or stirring soup.  That activity is then paired with another activity that is automatic, or with an activity that requires cognition, like writing an email or talking on the phone.    At the core of simple multi-tasking is a desire to be more productive.  We multi-task to CREATE more opportunity for ourselves –time to DO more and time to RELAX more.

An image, that comes to mind for me here, is the contrast between the organization man (Whyte, 1956): a dutiful employee who ate lunch in a cafeteria or restaurant and certainly not at his desk; and the entrepreneur of the late 1960’s, early 1970’s, who ate lunch at his/her desk or while filing papers, in order to get more done in a day.

Simple multi-tasking made it possible to cram more into our workday, and often, helped create a little more free time for drinks with friends, or time with family, or a favorite television show.

In the case of continuous partial attention, we’re motivated by a desire not to miss anything.  We’re engaged in two activities that both demand cognition.  We’re talking on the phone and driving.  We’re writing an email and participating in a conference call.  We’re carrying on a conversation at dinner and texting under the table on the Blackberry or iPhone.

Continuous partial attention also describes a state in which attention is on a priority or primary task, while, at the same time, scanning for other people, activities, or opportunities, and replacing the primary task with something that seems, in this next moment, more important.  When we do this, we may have the feeling that our brains process multiple activities in parallel.  Researchers say that while we can rapidly shift between activities, our brains process serially.

Continuous partial attention involves a kind of vigilance that is not characteristic of multi-tasking.  With cpa, we feel most alive when we’re connected, plugged in, and in the know.  We constantly SCAN for opportunities – activities or people – in any given moment.  With every opportunity we ask, “What can I gain here?”

Why care about the difference between multi-tasking and cpa?

Continuous partial attention is an always on, anywhere, anytime, any place behavior that creates an artificial sense of crisis. We are always in high alert.  We are demanding multiple cognitively complex actions from ourselves.  We are reaching to keep a top priority in focus, while, at the same time, scanning the periphery to see if we are missing other opportunities.  If we are, our very fickle attention shifts focus.  What’s ringing? Who is it?  How many emails? What’s on my list?  What time is it in Bangalore?

In this state of always-on crisis, our adrenalized “fight or flight” mechanism kicks in.  This is great when we’re being chased by tigers. How many of those 500 emails a day is a TIGER?  How many are flies? Is everything an emergency? Our way of using the current set of technologies would have us believe it is.

Over the last twenty years, we have become expert at continuous partial attention and we have pushed ourselves to an extreme that I call, continuous continuous partial attention.  There are times when cpa is the best attention strategy for what we’re doing; and, in small doses, continuous partial attention serves us well.  There are times when cpa and ccpa compromises us.

The “shadow side” of cpa is over-stimulation and lack of fulfillment. The latest, greatest powerful technologies are now contributing to our feeling increasingly powerless. Researchers are beginning to tell us that we may actually be doing tasks more slowly and poorly.

And that’s not all. We have more attention-related and stress-related diseases than ever before. Continuous continuous partial attention and the fight or flight response associated with it, can set off a cascade of stress hormones, starting with norepinephrin and its companion, cortisol.  As a hormone, cortisol is a universal donor.  It can attach to any receptor site.  As a result, dopamine and seratonin –the hormones that help us feel calm and happy – have nowhere to go because cortisol has taken up the available spaces.  The abundance of cortisol in our systems has contributed to our turning to pharmaceuticals to calm us down and help us sleep.  Read about email apnea to understand how our relationship with screen-based activities plays a role in this fight or flight response.

On http://www.lindastone.net

Posts on this site cover attention (yours, mine, ours), technology, health and trends (ZG Mapping – ZG for Zeitgeist  and Mapping for Orienting).

Readers of my work on Radar and on The Huffington Post may be familiar with some of the themes that I’ll tackle in the first few posts on this site.  Your comments, questions, quotes, and references are always appreciated — here, on Radar.Oreilly.com and huffingtonpost.com.

Thank you in advance for your interest in my work.

To those who have followed my work for a while, my apologies that it’s taken so long to update this site.  Matt Mullenweg, thank you for your encouragement to go with WordPress.    Lisa Gold, thank you for supporting my research efforts over the last decade, and for helping me get this off the ground.

Thank you for exploring the site.  There’s an area called “Talk to Me About…” and I’d love for it to be populated with relevant stories and good questions related to the topics indicated.

%d bloggers like this: