This week we’ve been reading about intelligence and attention. We are talking about concepts like: is Google making us dumber, and forms of multitasking. As I’ve been reflecting on what I had read, I had a connected yet really distracted thought: “Devo was right about something.” I should probably explain this.
Devo is a band that is well known for their 1980 single “Whip it”. Unknown to American Pop Culture, they’ve recorded a lot more than that single. A lot of their music was very distinctly from the 1980s, but much of it was also social commentary and predictions of where the music industry may be headed. One example is the song “Uncontrollable Urge”. I think they captured the spirit of Twitter to the untrained eye in the song :
Yes Twitter is more complicated than Tweeting what your “urges”. However if you have a Twitter habit, you do find that you are reporting back a lot of the things you’re doing. It also seems to hit on the point that beyond the silliness, there is a point. People are using it to connect with each other and collaborate, but when if you remember back to when you started Twitter, you probably had a similar thought. However this song is a little more related to this week:
The song “Fresh” is on a more recent Devo album, and I think it really illustrates more of the urges people have. A lot of electronic entertainment, anymore, is geared for the short-attention span. If you can see in this video, there’s a lot of messages being conveyed, but I’ll just address one: multitasking. There’s a lot going on in this video, and there seems to be more than one thing going on at once. Is it a commercial about fruit? Is it about new technologies? Hard to tell, and that’s the point.
As we have been reading this week multi-tasking makes it hard to retain information. With the Internet and other technologies, it’s become a commonplace. It’s hard for us (me at least) to sit down and read a novel without feeling like there needs to be music or something else going on to keep things from being too quiet. In essence reading with the music on is synonymous to college students going to a large lecture and using Facebook instead of taking notes. The problem is that we are multi-tasking too much, and I think that’s what Devo has predicted: the technology, along with its applications and distributions, may be conditioning us to be this way.