10 November 2013

RIP, Bob

Bob's dad died.

You might remember Bob, that yakking paperclip that was supposed to make Windows easier to use? His pop was Clifford Nass, and the creation of Bob should be enough to ignore his passing. I mean Bob???

On the other hand, according to the recitation in the Times obit, his principle occupation was at Stanford, and he had, at best, a gingerly view of human/computer interaction.

I mean, who wouldn't applaud this:
Clifford Nass, a Stanford professor whose pioneering research into how humans interact with technology found that the increasingly screen-saturated, multitasking modern world was not nurturing the ability to concentrate, analyze or feel empathy

While the obit doesn't include a cite, I expect he'd agree with the legendary studies which showed that GUI-fied applications, Word in particular, distract users from content to focus on the easy facade. Playing is always more fun than working, so it's not surprising to discover that Word users would expend more time and energy on font selection than on more mind taxing content.

Nass' research centered on the effects of multi-tasking. Again, I'm a member of the choir.
"We all bet high multitaskers were going to be stars at something," he said in an interview with the PBS program "Frontline." "We were absolutely shocked. We all lost our bets. It turns out multitaskers are terrible at every aspect of multitasking. They're terrible at ignoring irrelevant information; they're terrible at keeping information in their head nicely and neatly organized; and they're terrible at switching from one task to another."


"We worry that it may be creating people who are unable to think well and clearly."


Dr. Nass found that people who multitasked less frequently were actually better at it than those who did it frequently. He argued that heavy multitasking shortened attention spans and the ability to concentrate.

Is it any wonder that some of us question the au courant meme of Agile, for example? Read Nick Carr in memorium.

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