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Distracted-- the Coming of a New Dark Age; Rob Kall Interviews author Maggie Jackson

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Maggie Jackson:-Well, I think that we're all guilty.- And as a member of the media, I write a newspaper column"-

Rob Kall:-For who, for what paper?

Maggie Jackson:-The Boston Globe.- A column in the Boston Globe.- I certainly have seen enormous changes in how content is produced.- But we're all going down a certain road.-

You know, there's nothing wrong with Twitter, there's nothing wrong with Blackberries, and nothing in my book spells Luddite.- I really believe that we need to grapple with how to use these technologies more wisely.- We often think that this is all new, but actually our ways of life, the kind of split focus, virtuality, global village, etcetera, these are trends that have been coming upon us for hundreds of years.- We have to actually look back to the first high-tech revolutions, the advent of the cinema, the phonographs, rail, the telegraph, to see the seeds of how we're living today.-

All of this amounts to different changing conceptions of time and space.- Human beings, for millennia, could never go anywhere except by foot.- And they could never communicate with anyone except through messages that were very slow, etcetera.- Well, now we've changed that.- Everything has changed in the last couple of hundred years.- So, in some ways it's new, but in some ways it's become really a part of our environment and what it all adds up to me, the epiphany I had when I was researching these technological changes was that it's all about attention.- Because attention is probably the prime, the most important human faculty that we don't pay any attention to, pun intended.- We don't think about it and yet what we attend to is who we are in so many ways.-

So, what we're really talking about is an attention deficient culture and ways of life.- That's the key to understanding how we can be both reflective and yet high tech, how we can have deeper communications and yet also be connected with the wonderful, incredible, netcentric, broad communications networks that we have at our fingertips.- We can do both.- It's just a matter of becoming more cognizant of how we've gone overboard in terms of adopting these technologies and living in this new world.-

Rob Kall:-I wonder.- In my exploration of this new bottom up world, the groundswell, crowd-sourced, wisdom of the crowd world, I've come to the conclusion that we have a new generation of people under thirty who have basically grown up living with the web, living with instant messaging, eight, ten, twelve people at a time.- When I was a kid, we did not have email where you could send a blast to fifty or a hundred people, we had postage stamps.- We had cards that would go to one person.- These things have changed everything and I think it has changed the neuropsychology of this new generation.- What I'd like to get a handle on is this idea of the deeper connection that you talk about.- That fascinates me.- How, in this new web-connected world can depth be supported?

Maggie Jackson:-Well, I think there are several ways.- When I am talking about it sort of through the prism of recapturing attention, I think there are two ways out, so to speak.- Two ways to both harness the technologies, but also harness our human hunger for depth.- Because we truly do want challenge and depth and communication.- And I can't tell you how many twenty-somethings, even teenagers, people of all generations, say to me, "Thank you because I really thought it was me."- Why aren't we having a conversation at a party?- Twenty-somethings just look at their screens or show things.- Kids, a lot of people aren't happy.-

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