Settled in and back to blogging

Six weeks into my new career I’ve stopped introducing myself as “the new guy” at meetings. The deluge of information has subsided at least to the point that I once again have time for things like reading for pleasure, participating in online communities, and personal blogging. BTW – I now blog with my colleague Greg Staten for Avid. Topics of interest to current and future Avid customers and users will be covered in Source/Record.

For a couple of years I’ve used this space to help me work out ideas — get something out there, start a discussion, and synthesize the results. I’m hoping to get back to that a little bit by discussing some of the broader topics affecting media pros.

In a way a I feel like a corporate Rip Van Winkle. Though I’ve been in and out of large organizations my whole working life, I hadn’t been in the employ of a good-sized corporation in eight years. That’s an eternity in business. What’s most surprised me in upon my return to the cubicle is evolution of multitasking behavior — Blackberrys and laptops in meetings, at lunch, even at drinks after work.

Alas, I can’t multitask. My 1960s model brain doesn’t allow for multi-threaded processing. I have always assumed that feature wasn’t released into the human genome until the mid-1970s. It turns out I may be mistaken, and to this day the human brain doesn’t multitask. An article in The New Atlantis makes me feel much better about my 40-something cognitive capabilities.

Dr. Edward Hallowell, a Massachusetts-based psychiatrist who specializes in the treatment of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and has written a book with the self-explanatory title CrazyBusy, has been offering therapies to combat extreme multitasking for years; in his book he calls multitasking a “mythical activity in which people believe they can perform two or more tasks simultaneously.” In a 2005 article, he described a new condition, “Attention Deficit Trait,” which he claims is rampant in the business world. ADT is “purely a response to the hyperkinetic environment in which we live,” writes Hallowell, and its hallmark symptoms mimic those of ADD.

I’m not quite sure no one can successfully multitask. In fact, I’m pretty certain my teenagers and students excel at it. So I assume younger workers can pull it off somewhat. But for now, I feel better that science is on my side when I choose to bring pen and paper over silicon to a meeting.

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