Multitasking Versus Continuous Partial Attention

Ever at dinner with someone who can't look away from the Crackberry? Technologist Linda Stone says this isn't just multi-tasking, it's a case of "continuous partial attention":

Continuous partial attention and multi-tasking are two different attention strategies, motivated by different impulses. When we multi-task, we are motivated by a desire to be more productive and more efficient... In the case of continuous partial attention, we're motivated by a desire not to miss anything. There's a kind of vigilance that is not characteristic of multi-tasking. With cpa, we feel most alive when we're connected, plugged in and in the know. We constantly SCAN for opportunities—activities or people—in any given moment. With every opportunity we ask, "What can I gain here?"

Whenever someone's checking their cell phone for new email while we're in the midst of a face-to-face conversation, I always want to ask if the little screen is a better deal. Then again, I can't say I haven't been guilty of CPA myself from time to time. Got any unbearable CPA'ers in your life? How do you deal? Let us know in the comments.


    My wife always tells me she's multi-tasking but now I'm not even sure she's applying 'Continual Partial Attention'. It's probably more like 'Occasional Partial Attention'.

    Anyone else notice the same thing?

    I just found this, I tought I was multitasking... but from this point of view, there might be some bad things about it.-

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