From a comment on a currently-getting-lots-of-traffic political post; part of a tangential thread re: Canadian vs U.S. education, etc:
Our biggest problem in the US in that respect
...may simply be the superabundance of distraction in which we drown
our kids, much of it centered around celebrity but also every other
conceivable form of distraction. We hypercaffeinate them, feed them
nothing but flour and sugar for breakfast (and the flour may actually
be worse than the sugar), overexpose them to inane cartoons and
speech-compressed AM radio (a form of caffeine in itself), "center"
them with mindless twitch-n-jerk gadgets, and all that kind of thing.
What I notice very quickly when I visit Canada is that the young and
youngish people I encounter as cashiers, video store clerks, etc., are
not just smarter but a lot calmer, too. They can have a conversation
in the present moment and actually focus on it.
I can't speak to the conversational presence or calmness of Canadian youth, nor do I care that much about the topic of the post itself... but I think this commenter nailed it when it comes to drivers behind the frequently missing-in-action attention spans of modern youth.
I hear that somewhere out there in television-land (I don't watch much), there are actually ads now for vehicles that have not one, but twopassenger compartment DVD players, to help sedate (or intoxicate -- from the Latin intoxicre -- literally "to smear with poison, inside") the young souls traveling in back. Yikes...
Read a good post a while back over on Christopher Hawkins' blog, called "Starting in the Middle and Writing," which touched on one of my favorite subjects, the process of developing thought(s) from random musings-in-the-middle to sequential ready-to-present writing. I used to write regularly against a deadline (though you'd never know it from my blog posting of late <g>), and have always been amazed at how "non-linear" the process is, and always has been, for me.
Slowly but surely I am developing some software tools to aid the process, but I'm still amazed at how far there is to go --- and how much opportunity there is --- in the area of creating tools which help humans forge their thinking. I think that amazement is one of the reasons I am prone to occasionally (or not so occasionally) ranting when I see so much wasted programming energy spent developing dancing search puppies or some such nonsense --- there is so much useful work to be done that requires creative skill and energy, why waste it so?
But I digress.... thanks, Chris, for the post and the open comments; I learned about two very cool things from the thread that followed:
I find there is a wonderful paradox around focus. By defnition, to focus on one thing is to lose sight of another and so the more time we spend focusing at one level, the less focus we have one level higher.
Focus, as you use it, implies attention to detail at a given level of granularity. The challenge nowadays is that we are provided with floods of information at every level - and the question we must perpetually ask is ‘what’s the best level to focus at’.
- David Cruickshank, in a comment to this post of Douglas Johnson's over at A Million Monkeys Typing. (It's a great post, IMO... well worth the read. Evidentally stirred in part by this post and dialog over at at Weblogg-Ed).
You'll filter out and avoid a lot of reading today -- and a lot of focused thinkingas well -- just deailing with the daily cavalcade of information trying to invade your mind / life. Perhaps most importantly, it's quite possible you'll miss the Being amidst the Doing, taking in and fending off the invasion.
Changing perspective from overview to details and back. Creative oscillation. Being / Doing. Taking in new information, vs. formally analyzing it vs. just letting it mull in the back of your mind while you reflection and ruminate. It seems to me that in many ways, it's all about Balance.