Posted by: teresitaabaykrueger | October 13, 2009

Information Overload & the Erosion of Attention

Information Overload and The Erosion of Attention:


update: 17 Feb 2014, a portion of this blog post appeared in Latin Business Today

Recently, I found myself distracted by an irrelevant search result, which started as a curious collection of tag terms, prompted by my job search rubric, that followed a path of links I can’t even recall and ended up at a video of a TED Talk on the new age of worker productivity by Daniel Pink and the failure of incentives in the new work place.

Whew! See what I mean.

It seems that work, job searching and life have become a mad, multi-tasking scramble. So, I attended a lecture of the Murray Hill Institute where a discussion was facilitated by invited lecturer, Maggie Jackson author of the book,  Distracted – The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age. Her observation – “tech use in American society is eroding our capacity for deep attention — the core building block of intimacy, wisdom and cultural progress.”

With this starting point Jackson proposes that we need to recapture focus and thrive not just survive, in this age of ubiquitous connectivity. Citing several examples, such as the tragic incident of texting while driving, as seen in the recent commuter train disasters; and the embarrassing behavior of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi busy texting in plain site of waiting diplomats and dignitaries, Jackson commented that these are just mild examples of a  hyper-mobile, übercyber-centric populous that is leading to an attention-deficit disorder.

What I think, we are really experiencing:
I submit, that in today’s workplace, we are burdened with too much required attention.
We are living and working under the notion of a 24x7x365 scenario leading to the growing demand for and on the multi-tasker.  The outcome of anytime, anywhere connectivity, the result of technological breakthroughs at the device level (e.g. Smartphones, netbooks or mini laptops) and internet-based messaging and media services like Twitter, email, internet and wireless voice, data and images transactions, have the chilling effect of never feeling you’ve left the office or better yet – blurring the boundaries of work/life balance.  And as we further see the world flatten, what might be most alarming, is we begin to lose our ability to conduct deep thoughtful analysis of problems as well as lose sight of the value in face to face communications.  How can a culture consistently beset with knowledge accelerators, with little time for exploration of conceptual clustering pass on the wisdom of experiences to the next generation? How can a culture driven to distraction evolve to meet the needs of improving performance?”

From here on, if you follow my blog you will see some familiarity with one other of my writings, a newsletter interview I did on tech marvels of connectivity – a blessing or a burden – and the savvy needed to take control of an on-demand work environment.

For one thing, technology studies suggest that the half-life of new technologies is getting shorter. This further accelerates the phenomenon of feeds and speeds.
So it would seem that techno-gadgetry is in fact enabling our multi-faceted powers of attention and in turn helping us surmount barriers of time, of speed, location, overload and diffusion.

Evidence of Attention Overload eroding creativity:
However, a significant portion of evidence points to a shifting effect.  One I find of interest are those covering the influence of multitasking. In today’s workplace it seems so much more effort is necessary, just to maintain status quo. Lagging self-discipline, an inability to increase focus, result in only accomplishing a “shallow”  understanding of problems and issues as opposed to greater depth of perceptions leading to solutions.  This is sometimes referred to as the “Red Queen Effect”.  The result: In an effort to be relevant to a large, complicated company, the ADD culture will remain for awhile.

I will agree that information overload makes for only a “shallow” perspective and under minds the creativity that is now necessary for the 21st century worker. But as businesses continue to face irreconcilable forces that usurp old assumptions of profit and loss,  the information overloaded-distracted worker cannot afford to get mired in abstractions.

By Jackson’s own admission, her book is more a narrative with well-meant appeal than a treatise offering insights and solutions. And while this talk has definitely raised my awareness for the issues she writes about;  the warnings are not new, and have been talked about by educators, journalists and writers, government leaders for decades – certainly, ever since the creation of the television media culture which has been been decried as the ‘end of American Intellegencia’ since I was a kid.

As Jackson mentions, during her lecture at MHI, we are now beginning to notice the impact in an erosion of attention, and in an inability of American culture to maintain focus on long-term goals. How likely is this problem to be resolved? Not likely under the current economic cycle that pits employees against one another to retain jobs and relevance in organizations. In the pursuit of productivity and efficiency gains, corporations have found anxiety and exhibit ADD. The demand to perform and out perform the competition has become overwhelming and, the largest corporations confess in the media and in recent polls that they have produced progress reports and launched major campaigns that were less that forthcoming.

Corporations think from quarter to quarter.  Not much time for thoughtful exploration.

Well, one can always give up texting for Lent.

LinkedIn public profile

Posted by: teresitaabaykrueger | January 28, 2016

Moving Beyond the Prediction to Insight

“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” – Yogi Berra, professional baseball catcher and Hall of Fame inductee 1972

Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.” – Niels Bohr, physicist and Nobel Prize Winner 1922

Each year, pundits galore across all industry and topical areas predict the trends that will impact thmindmaplabrynthe coming year. I’m quite familiar with this exercise over the better part of my career with IBM, where it took a calendar year to collect, comment, analyze and vet the avalanche of technology ideas on the horizon.

Yet the irony in these predictions is that the world is moving too fast and it no longer makes much sense to measure trends in annual increments. Just go to any refresh button on Twitter or Yahoo feed and in a matter of seconds you’ll quickly see trends appear and disappear from your view. Still, the greatest gains from these insightful, and sometimes “crystal ball witchery ” has me hooked, because despite the inherent errors, these predictions are aimed at putting the technology revolution into context for companies and startup alike. The digital economy alone, now accounts for 22 percent of the world’s total economy, up from 15 percent in 2005. That percentage will grow to 25 percent by 2020. And the disruption caused by digital isn’t over yet. (Source: Accenture, released its top five tech trends for 2016).

That said, trends instruct the need to shift strategies throughout your entire existence. Some of my favorite trend watching sources include;

I use these useful bellwethers of change about the Technology Age rewriting the rules, offering up challenges and ultimately identifying opportunities.

Posted by: teresitaabaykrueger | February 24, 2014

WP Daily Prompt: Memories from my 12th Birthday

I remember an abject lesson in PATHOS.
My father “volunteered” me for a summer task as a mother’s helper to a family with a disabled 3 year old.
My father was a physical therapist and his practice focused most on the elderly but included children through the Montefiore Hospital in The Bronx. This 3 year old had cerebral palsy (CP) .

CP is considered a permanent disorder, in motor development and reflexes; Its’ victims are forever confined and restrained in the ability to free movement.
My task was to babysit the 3 year old, while the mother tended to her newborn that did not have the affliction of CP. But my father also instructed me in some rudimentary play therapy (physiotherapy) that introduced motor skills to the 3 year old and an effort to promote healthy development. Witnessing what was a strenuous activity for this 3 year old CP patient, made me think a bit more humbly.
But, it took me many more years to understand the real message in this lesson: that it takes more than logic and shrewdness to perceive the value of human endeavors.

“Here endeth the lesson.”pathos

Posted by: teresitaabaykrueger | February 17, 2014

Sibling Bad Behavior and the Failure of Diagnostic Theory*

Both Psychiatry and psychology are sciences that codify behavior into defined themes, but in general, these definitions remain understudied and, therefore,Psychiatry - Mind Map

somewhat mysterious for many of us. This is especially true when we encounter behaviors so obtuse that decoding the behavior becomes an exercise in discovery of misdeeds, missteps and mistakes.

So I ask…..

Is Psychiatry ultimately an instrument for weakening human resilience, self-reliance and resolve?    Does it turn human beings into mechanisms of coded misbehavior, depriving their conduct of reasoning, which makes them prey to the mystics of human frailty?

 What is this tendency of psychiatric diagnosis to categorize human experience by illustrating them along a shifting diagnostic continuum?  To that end, “personality disorders” serves as the catchall phase that is further delineated with a cornucopia of terms meant to describe characteristics or warnings of diseased mental infarction.

Considering those characteristics, and the extent to which a vast portion of  the Western population exhibits day to day, many of these “personality disorders”, indicates either a mass outbreak of human nastiness and inability to deal with everyday life is occurring,  or the whole business of psychiatric diagnosis must be dubious.

This incomplete list alone informs me the characteristics that make up personality disorders appears closer to a motely collections of misfits and non conformists than to objective laboratory correlatives:

Unjustified suspicions that others are undermining, harming, exploiting or deceiving

Chronic dependency

Persistently grudge-bearing

Avoidance and denial

Detachment from social relations

Limited expression of emotion

Feelings of superiority

Distain for work and productivity

Behavior or appearance that is odd, eccentric or peculiar  “that’s every entertainment personality on the planet!”” And add some politician to this”

Lack of drive, initiative

Poor self image, Lack of self esteem

Persistent and willful irresponsibility

Indifference to risk to self or others

Total disregard for adult responsibility, a protracted adolescence

Irritability and aggressiveness…………

Also, where is the map of the mind, correlated to these pathogenic experiences and how these disorders promulgate the pathology ? The overlap between pathological conditions and those that result from anti-social, psychological factors, or from bad moral judgment, suggests that psychiatry should examine more carefully what it regards as genuine illness.  This in no way means that a manic episode is something to doubt as a presence of illness.

It is that the state of naiveté throughout social and mental services in which health providers, social services and psychiatry now operate, and likely to endure, ensures that they will often be wrong.

My conclusion – that the very act of labeling an extraordinary bad behavior with a codified disease  does more to encourage the pathology—in other words, that the human mind often responds as it is expected—and thereby the psychological fragility of human beings is increased.

As I seek to determine the causal nature of our fragility I bemoan the belief systems of psychiatric medicine that include:

the blotted belief that all human weakness should be divided into these highly selected diagnostic categories, that all human distress arises from malfunctioning serotonin metabolism- the happy hormone; and a challenge to the use of functional MRIs to interpret behavioral anomalies. 

If there is anything we know best about ourselves, our history, our predilections is a firm and unshakable belief of the psychological fragility of human beings, and no amount of categorization of the seven deadly sins can be scientifically superseded by psychiatric diagnoses.

 29 Dec 2013- not all bad behavior is rooted in mental illness. Written as part of a persistent analysis of my brothers’ ongoing behavioral   misdeeds, missteps and mistakes.

Posted by: teresitaabaykrueger | February 16, 2014

An Accidental Chef : Never Lost Between The Kitchen and the Work Desk


Machiavelli may have said, “Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage. ” Source: Brainy Quotes  I have taken to working from my kitchen desk doing calls, research, internet searching, interviews, writing, along with pausing every so often, to experiment with a new recipe or plan meals.

How did this happen, that I found my kitchen environment conducive to productivity? Well, first I thought being in the kitchen an obstacle. An obstacle in the form of distractions. When I was a bench chemist, heads down work was the norm, relying on my meticulous work habits and rigid methodologies to record results, take measurements, conduct experiments and predict outcomes. In time I found this practice of thinking and acting gave me well orchestrated, predicable results. No surprises, gains in efficiency by perfecting repeatability.  No distractions equals no imagination.  No imagination curtails innovation and the necessity to  get out of the minutia of tasks.

So now as an amateur cook, I give myself permission to entertain this title; I can be distracted  to experiment, fail, innovate and create a deliverable – all in the service of learning and discovering.  Cooking allows me to dialogue with my culture, as well as offering a short reprieve from the frustrations encountered as I try to write articles.  It allows me to revisit my knowledge and enthusiasm for the science of cooking. Working in the kitchen transforms my misdirected and struggling thoughts about writing, a hunt and peck approach, into process thinking that yields better cohesive outcomes.

So it’s a little jarring to admit – I still need massive improvement in my writing; but the more I engage in culinary science, the better my thinking becomes and the better clarity in my writing.

Posted by: teresitaabaykrueger | January 24, 2014

AWEA : Absent without any Excuse

ImageTo Blog or Not to Blog – that is the question. 

I can see both sides of this debate but I’m particularly concerned about blogging daily when I could be doing more to spend time creating webinars, writing article, conducting interviews with niche authorities. In other words, creating more business relationships that lead to profit.  There is a common expression “fans are vanity, profit is sanity!”.

But now I am thinking, being an absentee blogger has hampered my ability to envision the same assets I want to create. Blogging is one important way to creating assets that grow my brand and the business I partnered in.  

So, I return. And I hope I can keep this up.  My time is a precious resource and, as a mother, wife and entrepreneur, I need to make sure to use that time wisely to generate an income. 


Posted by: teresitaabaykrueger | September 29, 2012

FUNDRAISER Brunch Cruise of NYC Harbor To Benef… | MyPRGenie

FUNDRAISER Brunch Cruise of NYC Harbor To Benef… | MyPRGenie.

Realizing the importance of information in healthcare transformation, there has been a surge of investment worldwide directed to Health IT.
Convergence of the physical sciences world with that of the biological sciences –
Engineering is colliding with the life sciences bringing about an enabling technology revolution – the essential enabler will be a “smart grid for medicine, “ that would combine data rich information with electron records of patients to make sense of all the data and improve care, drug discovery and deliver a personalized/targeted experience.
Medicine is becoming an information science – and the proven tools of IT that have helped weed out champions from weak competitors will be used to produce new business models of great benefit to patients not unlike those to consumers.
Once this grid exists – machines can harness information better, learn and change the healthcare experience.

Which technologies might be part of the new healthcare experience?

Social Influence – the ability to be trustworthy in the midst of constant bombardment of information-interaction with medical, social, policy-makers, scientific community of experts via blogs, facebook, web md
Pervasive Memory –the basis of intelligent interaction – the ability to remember all histories, drug interactions, conditions and “serve” these up to client systems
Remote Access – the ability to access and exchange information on-demand especially through MEM’s (micro-electro-mechanical) enabled devices
Digital Sensor – the ability to embed sensor devices everywhere, even in you!
Shifting Time – the ability to let patients, researchers, healthcare providers access content, even deliver services whenever and wherever necessary
Physical Web – the ability to assist researchers, healthcare providers, medical staff to remotely link, browse, even utilize the physical world not unlike today’s use of the Web

Posted by: teresitaabaykrueger | January 3, 2012

Women Transforming Culture – Murray Hill Institute & Social Media

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Posted by: teresitaabaykrueger | April 29, 2010

Information is Changing the World

The world’s societies are seeking a view and understanding about the “well-being” of a population in all its considerations, whether it be social, environmental, cultural and economic. They recognize the need for reliable, trusted information to define, measure and communicate progress at all levels of society, and to make responsive and responsible decisions that have major impact on citizens’ lives. There is an added emphasis on information transparency that leads to accountability of authorities. They also recognize that information must be accessible to a wide audience of authorities and constituents to collaborate on new ideas effectively. In the 20th century governments learned about the need to gather and maintain information in order to demonstrate progress in societies. Now in this century they are learning how innovation in information can accelerate this progress – to how Information is Changing the World.

Societal progress in challenging areas such as government services, healthcare services, pharmaceutical research, national security and workforce development demands innovation, especially for the urgent imperatives associated with performance, climate change, health risks, cultural pluralism, security and labor. But innovation thrives best where rich sources of information are available and where the knowledge gained can be shared and become actionable from the resulting insight.

Given the current pace of globalization, the measurement and assessment of progress goes beyond national boundaries. Statistical and analytical methods that are open – commonly defined and applied – will drive progress at national, regional, local and international levels for decades to come. In fact, what is being called the “globally integrated enterprise”(i) is an evolution made possible by the emergence of new skills in new parts of the world, high-growth markets in developing nations, free trade and Information access.

“Economies predicated on the rise are those with a view of a globally networked communications infrastructure, which in turn underpins the collaborative nature of societal innovation.” from the OECD Forum on Societal Change- Istanbul Jun 2007.

Data the new currency
As large data sets become one of the most influential resources the Internet creates, it seems that information has become the new currency – that new raw material for businesses. In contrast to the old economy of the 19th to 20th century where steel, land, oil and the associated capital and labor ruled. The Ford, Carnegie, Rockefeller empires have given way to Gates. It’s hard to imagine a world without information access, even in China. But what is more amazing, is the exponential growth of information and the endless need for more information. We have already witnessed the scale of both problems and solutions derived from this explosive growth and need. And a great example that describes the ease of access and use along with the large scale application is the decoding of the human genome – seen as the Grand Human Challenge involving the analyze of 3 billion base pairs, first estimated to take 50 years to complete–which in the initial project endeavor, took just ten years, and can now be achieved in one week. This phenomenon is akin to the first attempts to circumnavigate the world, lay down the first trans-continental rail system, launch the first human into space and return them safely.

These examples tell a similar story — the application of available information to a large scale problem that eventually lead to new areas of study, solutions, new businesses and new economic models. The key will be in designing the tools in information management that provides greater insight, unlock answers and ultimately create new models for business and government.

Information technology specialists around the world are invited to meet in this exciting arena – – as Information, Networking and Communication Technologies are entering the best period for innovation.

i The Globally Integrated Enterprise, Palmisano, S.J., Foreign Affairs, May-June 2006

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