Now I understand better my struggle with life in this high tech world. Linda Stone has captured it in the concept "continuous partial attention". I was concious of it last Tuesday sitting in a meeting and at the same time generating a new version of an XML Schema and mailing it to a colleague to fix a burning problem. It happens all the time with e-mail. The latest to arrive are the most urgent. Other stuff slips down the stack into the backlog, while the phone, the chatbox and the feed reader clamour for attention.
Continuous partial attention is the adaptation of our behaviour to the overwhelming availability of communication channels and their content. Our struggle to gain from the promise of our technology, our struggle to survive this meeting, the next deadline, the next performance appraisal and keep up with the news, the chatter, and to filter out the nuggets of real information that will make the difference to the day.
It is a relief to find it explained so clearly. But the real highlight is the quote from Dee Hock about the transitions from data through information and knowledge to wisdom:
- Noise becomes data when it has a cognitive pattern.
- Data becomes information when assembled into a coherent whole, which can be related to other information.
- Information becomes knowledge when integrated with other information in a form useful for making decisions and determining actions.
- Knowledge becomes understanding when related to other knowledge in a manner useful in anticipating, judging and acting.
- Understanding becomes wisdom when informed by purpose, ethics, principles, memory and projection.
There is a definition to savour:
- wisdom is understanding informed by purpose, ethics, principles, memory and projection.
We'll have to match that with the Wisdom of Solomon as it flashes by (continous partial attention again) in the snippets from Proverbs on OYB.