We accomplish what we pay attention to. I think it is common knowledge by now that the attention spans of humans have reduced dramatically, and are reducing every year, as we adapt ourselves to newer and ‘cooler’ ways of thinking and interacting.
I wonder many a time about how our habits in communication have changed over the years in terms of how much (or how little) we want to read and write.
Scriptures – The Vedas, The Bible, The Koran, The Book of Mormons, et al
Books (Classics, Biographies, Epics, Novels, Short Stories)
Documents, memos, etc
We seem to be giving ourselves less and lesser time to reflect on the information we exchange… It hardly has the time to become knowledge or wisdom… It’s when the light of understanding and insights reflects upon information that information grows into knowledge and then into wisdom…
In fact, there are two forms of learning – one is called learning (from external inputs), and the other is realization (from inside our own selves). We seem to be depending more and more on learning from external sources, and depending less and lesser on the organization of knowledge inside ourselves.
Google has fragmented wisdom and knowledge into information, our methods of communication viz. WhatsApp, Text Chat, Messenger, etc. have left us with little more attention span than a fly. I’ve had friends ask me for steps to accomplish something on different occasions, and to my surprise when I sent them the entire procedure in a neat document over email, they promptly requested the steps over WhatsApp!! What does this mean? Are we losing the big picture? Or am I losing the new Big Picture? Frankly, I have also considered the latter. Is it something that I may be stuck upon, instead of moving along with the ‘times’ to be as ‘cool’ as everyone else?
Maybe its just different ways we deal with the span of attention and focus that we have and need to distribute across the multitude of stimuli that bombard us every hour. The only thought that worries me is that value needs to be created, and long term value comes from pointing at the long term, beyond all the immediate short term objects, which seems to be a rare event these days, rarer than it used to be.
From Cement to Concrete, what is the difference?
A significant aspect to consider in the fragmentation of knowledge, is the probability (or lack of it) of retention of the whole with the fragments. How are Cement and Concrete defined?
- any of various calcined mixtures of clay and limestone, usually mixed with water and sand, gravel, etc., to form concrete, that are used as a building material.
- formed by coalescence of separate particles into a mass; united in a coagulated, condensed, or solid mass or state.
Cement becomes Concrete only when it cures, when it matures over time, remaining set in the same state of being (meaning). Fragments become that much more difficult to retain, as well as to retain in the configuration in which they made any sense. In fact, the ability to create and grasp long sentences is an interesting indicator of this skill.
Considering other forms of fragmentation too, e.g. of work, of time, of attention, of money (investment/payments) – the trends are consistently indicative. Work management for example, has emerged as an Agile approach, or worse, just giving up on the integrity of work with outcome. In its fragmented form, work is simply kept consistent with an activity list and schedule. Project management has also become fragmented.
In its fragmentation, we must ensure work (or anything that might be fragmented) does not lose its flow, which sometimes is the very core of the value of work.
Does this mean long term value is giving way to immediate gratification, a rhythm that’s faster, and a rhythm that’s a combination of so many rhythms that the core rhythm can’t even be perceived amidst the noise and chatter? I would love to believe that the capacity of the mind is infinite and modern minds can actually create long term value even from the fragments of life they deal with every day.
The point is not in extremes, but in the maturity to realize that every situation may require its own way of being dealt with. Some situations will demand the speed and responsiveness that can be met only with fragments. And then there will be situations that holistically lend themselves to creating new meaning, new insights, and new purpose by curing and maturing into lasting value.
Lets make more sense!! 🙂
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Loved this piece although I couldn’t help think of lamarcks theory of evolution and the example of giraffe…wonder how our own brain would evolve given the speed at which technology is evolving and the speed at our own adaptability towards this is concerned…
Nice and insightful Mukul.
Looks like we are delegating the sense making to artificial intelligence…
I was reminded of the online course on learning how to learn. One of the things it said is that we have a focused way and a diffused way. Complex concepts and information can only be absorbed by a combination of the two. Diffused way requires using long walks, music, sleep etc when you are consciously not thinking about the subject but inviting connects of what you have gathered on the outside with what exists on the inside. We seem to have dropped this approach altogether 😦
The article was too long !
You say a lot, so simply!! 🙂
You should have posted this as a tweet instead 😉