Multitasking and the other 2%

It’s hard successfully writing a blog post on multitasking while I’m lying on couch eating and watching Two Broke Girls on TV, while my sister is showing me Instagram posts and my Mum is yelling at me to clean my room. I have around 15 tabs opened on my laptop, including my WordPress blog, my email, Tumblr, Facebook, Moodle, and my lecture slides.

multi

Before researching multitasking for BCM240, I considered myself as a multitasker, and thought I was capable of doing many things at once. But is it multitasking if I’m not actually completing any tasks? Or is multitasking actually a form of procrastination?

Multitasking vs. Procrastination

After a bit of research I discovered that when you “multitask”, your brain is actually switching rapidly between handling one task and then another. Although you’re not physically delaying or postponing something (procrastinating), you’re not focusing your full attention on either task at hand.

What are the downfalls?

Scientist John Medina in his book Brain Rules, concludes that multitaskers experience a massive 40% drop in productivity.  They also take 50% longer to accomplish a single task and make up to 50% more errors than workers who focus on a single task at a time.

Multitasking isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be. Although its okay to multitask in some aspects of life (like singing in the shower,) multitasking at work or during study definitely affects your concentration and decreases your productivity.

David Strayer, director of the applied cognition lab at the University of Utah, studies multitasking and distracted driving. From his studies he concluded that “ninety-eight percent of people can’t multitask—they don’t do either task as well.”

In a study published in the journal Computers & Education, research subjects were asked to attend a university-level lecture and then complete a multiple-choice quiz based on what they learned to discover the extent which multitasking hindered their learning.

In the experiment, all the participants used laptops to take notes during the lecture, but half were also asked to complete a series of unrelated tasks on their computers. The tasks, included online searches for information — and were meant to mimic what distracted students might do during class.

McMaster University researcher Faria Sana, who co-authored the study commented, “We really tried to make it pretty close to what actually happens in the lectures, we found that lo and behold, the students who multitasked performed much worse on the final test and those who were seated around peers who were multitasking also performed much worse on the final test.

So you might not be multitasking but if you have a clear view of someone else who is multitasking, your performance is still going to be impaired.”

So even if you’re not the one undertaking these multitasking activities, your learning and memory function can still be affected and you won’t perform as well as you would if you had just focused on the one task at hand.

However there are a few problems with this research. For starters, is it fair to say that multitasking solely caused the participants to receive worse results? Maybe the participants weren’t as intelligent as the others. Another approach would be to identify the reasons why people multitask in lectures, because the content may be uninteresting and may need to be revised. Furthermore, it’s interesting how multitasking with technology is being singled out as the only reason for this drop in productivity. Multitasking has been around for as long as humans have. Before we multitasked with our internet tabs, they multitasked with their cave drawings and starting fires (probably.) Why is it that we’re now blaming media for its problems?

I’m not saying the research is wrong. It’s definitely been proven that multitasking (while undertaken in an environment where you are expected to learn or perform,) reduces productivity. But I think we need to look at the bigger picture. Is multitasking the only cause?

My advice?

Simplify your life and your tasks.

Do fewer things — better.

multitasking

References

– Garth Sundem. 2012. Psychology Today. Available at:http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/brain-trust/201202/is-your-brain-multitasking. [Accessed 13 September 14].

– Matt Petronzio. 2012. Only 2% of People Can Multitask Successfully. Available at:http://mashable.com/2012/08/13/multitasking-infographic/. [Accessed 13 September 14].

– Robert F. Bukaty. 2013. Laptop use lowers student grades, experiment shows. Available at:http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/laptop-use-lowers-student-grades-experiment-shows-1.1401860. [Accessed 13 September 14].

The Bystander and the Camera Phone

In the 21st century in Australia, people can legally be photographed without seeking their permission in public places but permission should be sought before sharing on social media – even though it’s not a legal requirement.

This raises many questions, such as what defines ‘public’ and ‘private’ space? Should we just need to accept that when we step outside our home, anything we do can legally be recorded, photographed and shared?

With the introduction of new technology, I think we need to have another look at our laws and regulations when it comes to our privacy. Although we may be in a public space, is it unethical for people to take photos of us without asking our permission and do what they want with it? I admit that I’ve taken a few ‘sneaky Snapchats’ of stranger’s doing/wearing something unusual, sleeping in a public place, or doing something of comedic value.

There are even Facebook pages, ‘People Sleeping at UOW’, ‘People on Public Transport.’ Although these might be a good laugh, what if it was you in the photo? I for sure wouldn’t be too happy if I was sleeping on a train with my mouth hanging open and someone posted a photo of me for hundreds or thousands of people to see.

3This week during my BCM240 tutorial, instead of hiding behind my iPhone, I tried to confront my public subjects and ask for their permission to use their image. However I couldn’t bring myself to ask for permission. I could easily sit behind my camera and take photos of the world when no one knew I was looking, but once the confrontation was added there was an element of connection and awkwardness I was just not comfortable with. I’ve never alerted the individuals I’ve taken photos of that I was taking a photo of them – except that one time I didn’t turn my flash off; and not even considered how they would feel if they knew I was using them for whatever comedic value I was.

Although sometimes this image/video capture can be useful, when is it that it crosses a line? Many times I have watched videos on Facebook of an incident that has happened in a public place and has been recorded.

A recent example was when a woman on a Newcastle train made a racist attack on other passengers after they wouldn’t give up their seat to her. “Can’t you get an Aussie girlfriend? You had to get a gook.” Onlookers filmed the racist attack, and because of this evidence she was tracked down, apologised, and faced charges.

I personally think that if someone is being unfairly mistreated or discriminated against, then the event should be allowed to be filmed.

However under what circumstances wouldn’t be appropriate? And when does it become unethical to film the event and not intervene.

Thinking of this reminded me of an anti-bullying campaign for Stonewall UK, an organisation whose campaign,”No Bystanders” encourages people take a stand against bullying and abuse. They encourage people to take the pledge, “I will never be a bystander to bullying and teasing language. If I hear it, I will call it out and if I can, I will stop it. By adding my name I promised to stand up for fairness, kindness and never be a bystander.”

But with camera phones this role as a bystander is blurred. Not only are you being a bystander, but you are recording the event to potentially share with other people. If you are aware that someone is in the wrong or doing something to hurt another person, emotionally or physically, is it ethically just to film it and not get involved and stop what is unfolding?

No-Bystanders-640x236 References 

– AAP, 2014, ‘Woman faces charges over racist outburst on NSW train’ The Australian,  July 3rd <http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/woman-faces-charges-over-racist-outburst-on-nsw-train/story-e6frg6nf-1226976514764?nk=ef6e207403a9a54439115812a2179a04&gt;

Media Regulations in 2014; a Reason for Panic

Growing up I had more rules and regulations regarding media than I do today. As a first child in a relatively strict family, I wasn’t even allowed to watch Home and Away until I turned 12. I was only allowed on MSN for a few hours a day (and the PC was in the kitchen where anyone could see my screen), and my mum was allowed to come in at any time and look at my conversations. As it was before the days of Facebook, I wasn’t allowed Myspace until ALL of my friends had it, and I wasn’t even allowed to read Girlfriend or Dolly magazine until I was like, 15.

Today, there’s no limit to what I can do. With my own laptop, phone, and ipod, my Mum really can’t control my media habits. She still assures me that she ‘checks my Facebook messages’ with a secret app, but come on Mum I know you don’t even know how to open a new tab.

My youngest sister who is 13 never had to deal with any of these problems. When I turned 12 and was allowed to watch Home and Away, my sister was allowed to watch it too even though she was 6. She now has her own laptop, iPad, iPhone and iPod, and I can only assume she does anything she pleases. Mum would have no idea what to even control or put restrictions on. Kik? Tumblr? Facebook? Snapchat? Instagram? She thinks Instagram is a messenger service and Kik is something you do with a soccer ball. Even if Mum did understand what we did on the internet, she would have no understanding of enforcing these restrictions or even know how to check the history or block any websites.

Today in the 21st century there are definitely less rules and regulations (in my family anyway) concerning media. If anything, I’m the one who limits my sister to what she does on the internet. Multiple times she’s asked me how to download TV shows and movies, but I don’t want her looking at all the disgustingly graphic advertisements on the side of The Pirate Bay.

It actually worries me that we had more rules and regulations surrounding the internet and media years ago than we do now. 5-year-olds from my Mum’s kindergarten class have gotten in trouble multiple times for looking up images on the school iPads such as ‘sexy’ and ‘poo bum’, and making collages of their Google image results.

The internet has provided us with the accessibility to to share, view and interact with ANY media content, wherever, whenever. The moral panic around illegal downloading increases daily, but I think we need to re-evaluate many other areas of technology first. What do you find more morally disconcerting? A 5-year-old child looking up images of the word ‘sexy,’ or teenagers and adults downloading a movie that isn’t aired on free-to-air television in Australia? I’m not saying that piracy isn’t bad, but what really needs to be focussed on is why Australians are in the position that they have to illegally watch their television shows.

Helen Roberts from the Parliament of Australia undertook research on if the Internet can be regulated. She stated,

“There is concern that children could gain access to material via the Internet, which would otherwise be unavailable to them because of their age. The impression has been created that hard core pornographic material is easy for children to find on the Internet. Material that is unsuitable for minors is more readily available.”

This issue needs to be added to our dialogue, and regulated before a whole generation of children witness things that they can’t un-see. The Internet has definitely blurred the lines between acceptable and non-acceptable viewing for children.

Along with media rules and regulations, the concepts of public and private space are also blurring.

When I went out for lunch with my group of girlfriends, our meals came out and every one of us pulled out our phones when our meals arrived to Instagram/Snapchat/Facebook a photo of our meal. It is becoming more and more accepted, almost expected, to have a mobile phone and to use it publicly. Because of this, we don’t just have our physical public space, but this other virtual public space online.

http://www.fanboysanonymous.com/2013/12/antisocial-networking-mental-health-and.html

In the 21st century with all the technology that we have, we are more social than ever. But just because we are social, does this mean that we are present? Because of all this technology we’re socialising half-heartedly, and don’t know how to sit down for a meal with friends without having our phone in our hand.

I think it’s important for us all to consciously not use our mobile phones during social events, and stop living our lives through our phone screens.

The Cinema; Your Private Space with 50 Strangers

Although the cinema is a public space, it’s not your typical public space. While the movie is playing it’s more of a private space with public conditions. Movie etiquette includes not talking loudly whilst the movie is on, and limiting phone use because of the bright screen that can distract people from the movie screen. However I have had many a bad movie experience, where the person behind me keeps kicking the back of their seat, or someone nearby keeps talking or eating their food really loudly. Behaviour like this in the movies is likely to anger most people sitting nearby; even though it is classified as a public space, there are certainly no no’s when it comes to disrupting peoples experience, especially as people now have to pay $20+ for a ticket.

http://wearethewall.com.au/news/wallsentials-etiquette-in-public-places

Going to the movies is a leisurely activity; many will go from a young age with their parents, on first dates or with their friends when they’re allowed to make trips to the mall unsupervised by parents. Even if the movie isn’t that great, or if you aren’t interested in the genre, many people go to the movies just to go to the movies.

Thinking back on my last visit to the cinema, was with my Mum and teenage sister to see The Fault in our Stars. Never have I had an experience like this. The cinema was packed with teenage girls, and the mass sniffling and sobbing was equal parts fascinating and hilarious. The cinema provides a space like no other, where strangers can sit side by side in a public place and bond over a fictional story that you live through and experience for 2-3 hours.

Even though the book was better, and I probably wouldn’t watch the movie again, it’s exciting to watch a new release on a big screen. I’ve paid for many a movie that I haven’t enjoyed and wouldn’t even rate a 3/10, but I went and paid nonetheless because all my friends were going.

As an ‘adult’, the exciting movie experience isn’t quite the same as it was in my youth. There was nothing quite like watching the first Twilight movie on the day it was released with a cinema full of teenage girls who had read every page back to front and spent their days fantasizing about team Edward or Jacob.

With piracy being on the rise, I can imagine that the levels of cinema attendance will slowly decrease over the years, but I can’t see the cinema business ever shutting down completely.

“The proportion of Australians attending the cinema at least once per year has averaged 69 per cent since 2000, with an average of about eight visits per year per person. After last reaching a high of 72 per cent in 2004, the attendance rate has averaged 68 per cent in the subsequent eight years. The frequency of attendance also fell slightly during this time, and is now at 6.9 visits per year compared to 7.8 in 2004.” (Screen Australia, 2014)

These statistics are no surprise to me. With the ever increasing cost of the movies, it’s no wonder people are choosing to go less than they used to. Personally, now I’m 19 I don’t have as much time to go to the movies as I once did. Whilst trying to organise a movie date and session in our tutorials, it was apparent how much little free time we had. Due to all our differing schedules, university timetables, work rosters and other commitments, it’s harder at this age to find a day and a time that fits for everyone.

Even though an adult ticket, popcorn and frozen coke may set you back $35, the movies is an activity that people of any age can enjoy. There’s a certain excitement about watching a new movie in a cinema theatre that every person feels.

http://weknowmemes.com/2013/06/last-night-a-movie-theater-was-robbed/

References:   

Screen Australia 2014, Audio Visual Markets; Cinema, viewed 29th August 2014 <http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/research/statistics/wcrmattend.aspx&gt>

‘Real Life?’ – Never heard of that server.

The Internet has without a doubt changed the dynamics of our family household. It has become a daily necessity, with 83% of Australia’s population having access to Internet. In my household alone we have 4 smartphones, 6 laptops, 2 iPads and 5 iPods between us, all of which can connect to the Internet. Not to mention the drawer we have full of our ‘outdated’ phones. Our Internet connection is better than it’s ever been, but it still lags and is too slow to play a decent and fast paced X-Box game. I asked Mum exactly what our Internet connection was and she said ‘Dial up? I don’t know, what are the options?’

Before my BCM240 lecture, I had never given The National Broadband Network (NBN) much thought.

My mum, who I interviewed for my previous post on television history, also didn’t have much to say about the topic. Her exact words were “I don’t think it will have much of an impact on our family, but if I was living out in the bush then yes.”

Interesting Mum.

The National Broadband Network (NBN) is “transitioning Australia to a digital future and will bring new opportunities to the whole country.” But what I wonder is how beneficial these opportunities will be. Working from home is an ‘opportunity’ they emphasise. However I don’t see how blurring the lines of work and home can be beneficial for any family. When we were younger mum used to have a saying, “Home time is family time.” I guess this is how she got us to play Friday night board games until I was 15. But even since then, we mainly spend our time at home together. We don’t have televisions in our rooms, so we all watch TV together.

Curious as to whether any of the suburbs close to me are connected to the NBN yet, I used their ‘check your address’ option. I wasn’t really surprised to see that nowhere in the shire has been connected to it yet.

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 9.26.01 pm

However the situation everywhere else is very different. I honestly wonder how long it will take to be evenly distributed, and if in fact that will happen. Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 9.27.54 pm When I was completing my HSC, a study tip that they emphasised was not to study in our bedrooms or in a space we relate to relaxing. Working from home is doing exactly that. Yes you’re close to your family, but you find yourself having to separate yourself from home, and visa versa. Commuting to the office brings the associations of work, and the line between home and work are very clear.

workaholism-and-obsession-with-technologyI think the NBN comes with a lot of promises for a “better future”, but all I can see is a future in which people will mainly communicate with each other from their homes, and via a screen. People’s mental health will deteriorate, square eyes will actually become an issue, households will be spending a lot more on technology, we’ll forget how to have real conversations, and everyone will be Vitamin D deficient because we will never have to go outside.

So maybe I’m over exaggerating a little, and sure faster Internet would be nice, but I don’t think the NBN is going to benefit us all that much. Its just going to make our obsession of technology even bigger than it is already.

Sherry Turkle in her talk at TED, Connected, but alone?, commented how “we sacrifice conversation for mere connection,” and its exactly true. Our reliance on technology is so extensive that we are left not knowing how to continue our day-to-day tasks if we are left without technology or if one of our platforms stops working.

So although the NBN may make our lives that little bit easier, I think we really need to take a step back and re-evaluate how we can do things without technology. You never want to be caught out during a blackout.

References:

Turkle, S 2012, ‘Alone Together’, TED talk,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtLVCpZIiNs.

Cookies. And not the edible kind.

My little sister looked up ‘Ferret harness’ on Gumtree. We don’t have a ferret, but seeing as I’m highly allergic to animals, of course the only thing she really wants in the world is a furry pet. Her 13-year-old logic tells her that if she bought ferret accessories, we would have no choice but to buy a ferret.

Around 5 minutes later, she was on Facebook and she noticed that all the ads on the side of her screen had changed. There was an ad for Gumtree, and a seller that sold ferrets for $500, an ad for eBay for a ferret cage, and an ad for a local pet store that sold ferrets.

The ads on the side of my Facebook are all for clothing boutiques. But before seeing my sisters Facebook, I never gave the ads a second thought – I just figured everyone else was also seeing women’s fashion.

Even though you may be looking up something on your personal computer, or watching a program on TV alone in your lounge room, people somewhere know exactly what you’re doing. But is this a problem? I personally don’t mind that an advertiser knows that I’m on the hunt for a khaki anorak jacket, because who knows, maybe their ad on the side of my screen will feature the perfect jacket from a boutique I hadn’t even heard of.

TV advertisers do it too, and they feature ads that are specifically targeted at the target market of the TV show. Information they find out through audience measurement, and with help like companies like A.C Neilson. But again, whilst watching the Bachelor I’d much rather watch ads for the new Maybelline lipstick, not the newest 4×4 turbo diesel car.

tracking-cookies_c_301791

However there may be gaps in the audience measurement process at the moment, like a lacking of qualitative data, I think in the future they will have figured out how to make audience measurement even more specific. Although they may know that my household watches Home and Away every weeknight, they wouldn’t have information on which members of my house watched it. Or what about all those times you’ve just left the TV on as background noise? (Sorry mum, I know you pay our electricity bill). So the system isn’t 100% accurate at the moment. But they can still get a pretty good grasp on the ratings of a TV show, at least enough to do a comparison across other networks.

I’ve heard many people complain that there are too many reality TV shows, but reality is that’s what gets the views. I’m happy for the industry to know my TV viewing habits because it may well mean new terrible, (but great,) entertainment reality shows.

Neilson in the US proudly claim that “In addition to capturing what channels viewers are watching on each television set in the home, our meters can identify who is watching and when, including “time-shifted” viewing—the watching of recorded programming up to seven days after an original broadcast.”

Although it sounds very Big Brother, all this information they’re gathering is to provide to the marketing and advertising industry so they know exactly what/when/where to target us. But how is this a bad thing? I like hearing about new products which I could buy. And even boys like hearing about the new 4×4 turbo diesel whatever.

Am I playing right into the industry’s hands? Yeah probably.

But who cares. I like a new lipstick as much as the next girl.

 

 

Update: This ad just popped up on my Facebook, and yes I work at Bunnings.

This ‘cookie’ stuff just got way too personal.

Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 8.22.32 pm

Back in the Day – Memories of Television

My mothers childhood memories of television were so interesting, and very different to my own. In year 4, she was the last one in her class to get a colour TV. She recalls how exciting this was for their family; the only colour TV they had seen before was at their Grandmothers house, they would watch her TV no matter what show was on, just to see the different colours.

Moments that she remembers fondly are the family conversations that arose surrounding the advertisements on TV. She recounts, “My farther wrote the first media studies textbook, he was big on ‘just because its on TV doesn’t mean its true’ – lots of kids thought everything was on TV. A big family conversation in my household was ‘sucked in by ads’ – which basically meant we shouldn’t let TV influence you. If we were at the shops and asked my Dad for a product that we had seen an ad on, he would repeat his slogan.” Back then, she recalls that the ads had more jingles, lots more singing and her and all her friends knew (and still know), all the words to them because you had to watch them and couldn’t fast forward.

Family gathered around television

Image Credit – Daily Mail

Every Sunday night a different kids movie was on. In her household this night was hair washing night, and everyone would take turns with the old fashioned hairdryer (a big balloon machine which sat on your head.) She points out that nowadays when you have a movie night, everyone’s doing different things; watching the movie, but texting and on their laptops at the same time. Back then everyone had no choice but to focus all their attention onto the TV set.

Her family had watched the Brady Bunch so many times that whenever an episode was on, it would be a competition to see who could guess which episode it was first – ‘It’s the episode where Peter gets braces!’

A major memory of hers was how as a teenager her mother wouldn’t let her watch the show Countdown. She felt herself feeling increasingly left out at school because of this; her group would spend their lunchtimes singing the top 40 and she couldn’t; join in because she didn’t know the songs.

The other night she was on her iPad with earphones in and I asked what she was doing. She said she was watching the previous episodes of the Bachelor because all of the women at her job were talking about it and she wanted to fit in and join the conversations. 30 years after the Countdown incident and it would seem as if much hadn’t changed. Television was still creating a conversation, and you had to keep up to date in order to fit in.

When she was 20, her boyfriend’s family had a remote control for their TV. When she watched it with his family, his brother would take control of it and flick stations so many times you weren’t sure what you were watching, or think ‘oh I didn’t know this actor was on this show.’ She remembers thinking that she didn’t want to buy a TV with a remote when she got married, but by that time they all came with one.

Something that is significant to her today in 2014 is how accessible media is. In her childhood and into her young adulthood, if you weren’t home when a TV show was on, you missed it because there was no such thing as record.

One day when she was 10, her dad was reading the newspaper and said ‘One day you’re going to be able to watch whatever you want, whenever you want.’ She remembered being completely blown away by that. How on earth would that happen? Do you ring up and say ‘Can I please have Brady Bunch on at 23 Menai Road now?’ At a time when videos and DVD’s weren’t even invented, it was almost impossible to imagine what television and life would be like in the future.

During this conversation I was definitely aware of how much freedom we have with our television and media choices in 2014. If I want to watch a certain movie I can choose to watch it without even having to leave my couch. After hearing all her memories and realising that they didn’t even occur that long ago, it made me wonder what television will be like in another 30 years. We already have 3D and touch screen televisions, what will be next? A television that you can actually step into?