Posted by: Stefanie Caraviello | March 7, 2011

Digital Nation

Among the programs at last weeks FDCC Joint Meeting was one by Rachel Dretzin, the producer and director of Digital Nation: Life on the Virtual Frontier, a Frontline documentary from last year. Although not directly legal related, her presentation on the impact that technology has on our lives and that of our children was definitely worthwhile since many of the folks most absorbed by technology will soon be jurors.

In the course of her presentation she made one point that struck me as to my generation’s place in time. Namely, I am part of the last generation of people to know what life was like before the internet. As I think about my own children’s lives and the technology available to them it struck me just how immersed they have become with phones, laptops and the like. But it is not just younger people, technology prevents all of us from slowing down or taking time out to even listen to a presentation like this.

One of my friends remarked that when he got up to leave the room to make a phone call that he looked back into the audience and at least half of Rachel’s audience had a laptop or PDA up and in use. That’s irony. We later saw portions of the Frontline program showing testing done at Stanford of college students which concluded that multi-tasking is not effective and multitaskers typically are not more effective and actually lose information or don’t process it properly.

Multi-tasking also contributes to one area that I see frequently; the inability of people to write effectively. MIT students who were featured in the Frontline documentary joked that they were only “good for a paragraph at a time” because of the distractions of digital media. As the speaker stated accurately, “digital business is the enemy of depth.” Because of the constant interruptions of email, phone and the like, there is less time spent for big ideas or big picture thinking.

Interesting thoughts for us all.

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