All the streams from the social web have created a flood of information over the past few years. With this influx of life and data streams comes the desire to stay on top of it all. And for many people, that means multi-tasking. Checking email while Tweetdeck keeps up with Twitter, while we pop over to Facebook to look at our friends’ latest photos.
It’s intuitive to think that handling so many tasks at once makes us better at handling many tasks. But that’s wrong, according to Stanford professor Clifford Nass. According to Nass, the more you multi-task, the worse you get at it, and it adversely impacts your ability to do all kinds of things a brain should do (like, you know, think). He’s just written a book called The Man Who Lied to His Laptop, which explores how as computers have become more human-like, we as users have started treating them as such. Additionally, Nass writes, we can study how people interact with computers to see how we’ll act with each other.
Nass stopped by GigaOM HQ last week and told us about some of the findings from his research like:
- What computers and T-shirts can teach us about team building.
- How his team got people to actually like Microsoft’s Clippy (I know! Impossible, right?).
- The dangers of multi-tasking and what is the optimal method for modern day workers.
Watch the video and see if you could adopt Nass’ unit-tasking office universe. Have a better idea? Leave us your thoughts in the comments.