Digital distractions

iPad has been receiving a lot of press, lately.  Much of it is positive, although it has its detractors.  Much of the negative press seems unwarranted and looks like a FUD campaign.  Indeed, many of the hits to my “iPad? How bad?” post are from searches for the terms “iPad” and “bad” — people looking for ammunition; these people should fuddle duddle.  One thing that seems to be brought up consistently is the inability for iPad to run multiple applications at once at the behest of the user.

In our society, the ability to multitask is often seem as a virtue though, as studies suggest, no one is truly able to cognitively multitask.  Productivity, they say for cognitive tasks, is maximized by focussing on a single task and getting into “flow”.  Being able to check e-mail, view a friend’s current status on a social networking site, and change the music to which one is listening with a few mouse-clicks doesn’t help matters.  From the chaos emerged the unitasking/monotasking/single-tasking “movement”.  Adherents work on one task at a time, avoiding interruptions.  Fancy that!  For example, Jorge has opted to use a full-screen text editor to avoid digital distractions; however, he still has a hard time avoiding physical world distractions like me.

In that light, is iPad’s current inability to multitask really such a bad thing?  Sure, it might be nice to have a choice about whether or not one will multitask — at least for those of us with enough discipline to use the capability wisely.  But for most of us, the unitasking iPad is perhaps “not a bug, it’s a feature.”  Unfortunately, it sounds like iPhone OS 4.0 will fail a regression test by introducing the multitasking bug that afflicts many other devices.

In case you were wondering, while I think iPad isn’t bad, considering what I already own, it’s not for me and  I still don’t plan to get one.

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