Multitasking while studying: Divided attention and technological gadgets impair learning and memory

Slate: "Attending to multiple streams of information and entertainment while studying, doing homework, or even sitting in class has become common behavior among young people—so common that many of them rarely write a paper or complete a problem set any other way. But evidence from psychology, cognitive science, and neuroscience suggests that when students multitask while doing schoolwork, their learning is far spottier and shallower than if the work had their full attention."

Brain, Interrupted

NY Times: "There’s a lot of debate among brain researchers about the impact of gadgets on our brains. Most discussion has focused on the deleterious effect of multitasking. Early results show what most of us know implicitly: if you do two things at once, both efforts suffer."

Why grad schools should require students to blog

Maria Konnikova: "Academia as a whole is still quite skeptical of popular writing and anything that takes time from *serious* academic pursuits.... It’s a shame—and it’s counterproductive. Instead of frowning upon blogging, popular writing, any intellectual pursuits that don’t seem immediately and narrowly academic, wouldn’t it make sense for academia to embrace it all—and embrace it enthusiastically?"

The Real Me

Fortunately, Doug Mack's story aout dating in the digital age *does* end well: "[T]he internet is both an unrelenting enabler and unforgiving archive of flaws. As a single 30-year-old in the era of online courtship, I’d been in similar situations before and, in fact, had often been unable to resist my own temptation to type names into the search box. Inevitably, I felt weird and creepy if I didn’t find anything noteworthy, weirder and creepier if I did. Things rarely ended well."

Own your identity

Marco Arment's approach to managing his online identity is a great model to follow: "I’ve always built my personal blog’s content and reputation at its own domain, completely under my control, despite being hosted on many different platforms and serving different roles over the years. It has never been a subdomain of any particular publishing platform or host."

If You Didn’t Blog It, It Didn’t Happen

Anil Dash: "[I]f most tweets are too ephemeral to reach their full potential as ideas, what do we do about it? Well, obviously, one big step would be to simply make sure to blog any idea that's worth preserving. It's perfectly fine to tweet about trivialities — I do it all the time! But if you're tweeting about your work, your passion, or something meaningful to you, you owe it to your ideas to actually preserve them somewhere more persistent."

Meet the Stalkers

Jeff Saginor: "Every day, without even knowing it, you share intimate personal details about your life with people you’ve never met. The medical symptoms you search online follow you: first to the pharmacy where you pick up a prescription, then to a database of specialists looking to add you as a patient, or to an insurance company creating a risk pool. The car you’ve researched on the Web has been broadcast to your local dealerships before you’ve even left the house."

George Saunders talks about his “reluctant engagement with computers”

"I have noticed, over the last few years, the very real (what feels like) neurological effect of the computer and the iPhone and texting and so on — it feels like I've re-programmed myself to become discontent with whatever I'm doing faster. So I'm trying to work against this by checking emails less often, etc etc. It's a little scary, actually, to observe oneself getting more and more skittish, attention-wise."

Evgeny Morozov Doth Protest Too Much

Micah Sifry takes on Morozov's new book: "Extrapolating from the grandiose statements of people like Google's Eric Schmidt and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Morozov spins up a world that doesn't exist and then proceeds to inveigh against it as if it must be the end-point of where the technosolutionists are taking society."

The New Résumé: It’s 140 Characters

The Wall Street Journal: "Twitter is becoming the new job board. It is also becoming the new résumé. Fed up with traditional recruiting sites and floods of irrelevant résumés, some recruiters are turning to the social network to post jobs, hunt for candidates and research applicants."

Why Social Movements Should Ignore Social Media

Evgeny Morozov reviews Stephen Johnson's Future Perfect. Surprise! He doesn't like it: "Like Shirky and Benkler, Johnson is grappling with the thorny question of what the Internet means. His conclusion, alas, is not very original: the history of the Internet tells us that decentralization is preferable to centralization. And, to quote Steve Jobs, 'It just works!'"

The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens

I don't agree with all of Ferris Jabr's arguments in this Scientific American article, but I really like the section about the physical "topography" of books: "[M]ost screens, e-readers, smartphones and tablets interfere with intuitive navigation of a text and inhibit people from mapping the journey in their minds. A reader of digital text might scroll through a seamless stream of words, tap forward one page at a time or use the search function to immediately locate a particular phrase—but it is difficult to see any one passage in the context of the entire text."

why I’m quitting Mendeley (and why my employer has nothing to do with it)

danah boyd: "I genuinely like Mendeley as a product, but I will not support today’s Elsevier no matter how good a product of theirs is. Perhaps they’ll change. I wouldn’t bet on it, but I am open to the possibility.  But right now, I don’t believe in the ethics and commitments of the company nor do I believe that they’re on the precipice of meaningful change. As minimally symbolic as it is, I refuse to strengthen them with my data or money."

The Internet ‘Narcissism Epidemic’

I'm not sure what to think about this piece by Bill Davidow in the Atlantic: "We suspect part of the rise in narcissism is being driven by Internet tools. What is clear is that social media platforms are frequently used by those with narcissistic tendencies to feed their egos. These same applications are used by millions of others to build their businesses, coordinate events, and maintain close ties with friends and families. Unfortunately, narcissists are setting many of the benchmarks for everyday users."

How Memes Are Orchestrated by the Man

Kevin Ashton: "Experts said the 'Harlem Shake' phenomenon was emergent behavior from the hive mind of the internet—accidental, ad hoc, uncoordinated: a 'meme' that 'went viral.' But this is untrue. The real story of the 'Harlem Shake' shows how much popular culture has changed and how much it has stayed the same."

2000, the Year Formerly Known as the Future

David Bauer reminds us how much has changed in 13 years by taking a trip back in time to the year 2000: "Time to check Twitter for the latest…ah well, no Twitter yet. So let’s see what your friends are up to over on Face…doesn’t exist either. Not even MySpace. Heck, not even Friendster."

Profs Fail iEtiquette 101

Laurie Essig, in the Chronicle: "We who rely on people listening to us no longer believe we have to listen when someone else is speaking. Of course, academics not listening is not completely new. Long before the age of constant connectivity we daydreamed during a boring talk, passed snarky notes to colleagues, and doodled images of our dog over and over again. In other words, we continue to do what we’ve always done, but now we do it far more openly and with the aid of technologies that allow us to pretend we are being hyperproductive."

A History of Like

Robert W. Gehl: "Social media in general, and Facebook in particular, are supposedly driving a brand-new world where marketers, editors, and other gatekeepers are marginalized and mass culture is dissolving into niche cultures and individual expression. But if we keep the history of marketing in mind, including the development of Liking Studies, we see how Facebook is caught up in longer histories, specifically the history of the desire to dissect, study, and recompose a particular subject, the sovereign consumer."

Killing Your Twitter Account (and Reviving It)

Mark Sample, on ProfHacker: "Why might you want to deactivate your Twitter account only temporarily? Maybe you’re interviewing for a job and would rather not have your live-tweeting of The Hobbit play a role in the search committee’s decision. Or perhaps you’re the target of a spam attack, or even worse, being stalked online. Or it could simply be for dramatic effect, as in my case."

Digital Era Redefining Etiquette

Nick Bilton, in the NY Times: "The anthropologist Margaret Mead once said that in traditional societies, the young learn from the old. But in modern societies, the old can also learn from the young. Here’s hoping that politeness never goes out of fashion, but that time-wasting forms of communication do."

The Touch-Screen Generation

Hanna Rosin, writing in the Atlantic: "[A]s technology becomes ubiquitous in our lives, American parents are becoming more, not less, wary of what it might be doing to their children. Technological competence and sophistication have not, for parents, translated into comfort and ease. They have merely created yet another sphere that parents feel they have to navigate in exactly the right way."

Study: ‘Likes’ Likely to Expose You

The AP reports on a recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: "Facebook said last year that roughly 2.7 billion new likes pour out onto the Internet every day — endorsing everything from pop stars to soda pop. That means an ever-expanding pool of data available to marketers, managers and just about anyone else interested in users' inner lives, especially those who aren't careful about their privacy settings."