The Pleasure and Pain of Speed. Nautilus arti­cle that looks at whether there are bio­log­i­cal thresh­olds to how fast our brain can process infor­ma­tion. Toward the end it con­sid­ers whether these thresh­olds are sta­tic or whether we’re adapt­ing to faster pro­cess­ing speeds over time.

How Experts Think:

Less think­ing led to bet­ter solu­tions. More think­ing led to worse solu­tions. Were grand­mas­ters mak­ing their moves by inspiration?

No. Experts do not think less. They think more effi­ciently. The prac­ticed brain elim­i­nates poor solu­tions before they reach the con­scious mind.

I find for myself that my first thought is never my best thought. My first thought is always some­one else’s; it’s always what I’ve already heard about the sub­ject, always the con­ven­tional wis­dom. It’s only by con­cen­trat­ing, stick­ing to the ques­tion, being patient, let­ting all the parts of my mind come into play, that I arrive at an orig­i­nal idea. By giv­ing my brain a chance to make asso­ci­a­tions, draw con­nec­tions, take me by sur­prise. And often even that idea doesn’t turn out to be very good. I need time to think about it, too, to make mis­takes and rec­og­nize them, to make false starts and cor­rect them, to out­last my impulses, to defeat my desire to declare the job done and move on to the next thing.

William Deresiewicz — Solitude and Leadership.

Our Digital Ethos

I dis­avow the notion that tech­nol­ogy should change our lives. Technology should improve our lives in small, mean­ing­ful ways. It should nudge, pro­voke, sur­prise, inform, and yes, con­nect on a grand scale. But it should not pre­sume to know too much.

Nathan Heleine — Our Digital Ethos

The attention-span myth

Virginia Heffernan dis­putes the tra­di­tional notion of an attention-span. Good to see some­one con­front Nicholas Carr’s notion that tech­nol­ogy causes brain dam­age.

I’m sur­prised that any­one ven­tures so far into this thicket of sophistry. I get stuck much ear­lier in the equa­tion. Everyone has an atten­tion span: really? And really again: an atten­tion span is a free­stand­ing entity like a boxer’s reach, exist­ing inde­pen­dently of any news­pa­per or chess game that might engage or repel it, and which might be mea­sured by the psychologist’s equiv­a­lent of a tailor’s tape?

If mate­r­ial is engag­ing peo­ple will focus on it, regard­less of what their sup­posed attention-spans are.