Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives
Henry Jenkins, Magellan and continuous partial attention.

In his August column for MIT's Technology Review, the director of the Comparative Media Studies program examines the idea of Videogame Virtue – namely, that children raised with videogames are better equipped to deal with our current culture of continuous partial attention. He certainly has me pegged.

What I'm looking for these days are statistics that show the value-to-speed ratio of said condition; since I've been working from home, I've relied on IM and e-mail for the kind of daily social interactions I used to get in a few seconds at the office, but sometimes you just need to focus to get things done. What's the speed and quality of a worker's output who isn't constantly plugged in? What's the value of social interaction, or instant notification if something changes?

One of the reasons I've been tinkering around with the blueprints for Magellan, my personal command center (yes, I've already named it; yes, I know this means I'm both sunk and a dweeb) is my desire to be more simultaneously aware, utilizing more of my peripheral vision in order to get work done. The truth of the matter though is that I just don't know if I'm going to use Magellan for most of my daily work. Right now I've worn the silver paint off of Kerouac, my PowerBook, because I use it so much in any given day. I can't imagine going back to being chained to a chair – but I certainly can imagine sitting down at least once every morning to a command center that's giving me all my morning's data at once in one customized environment. When it comes time to write, design, animate, or anything else of that nature, I'll probably unplug with Kerouac and go curl up in a chair. Therefore, is it worth something like $5000 to build a state-of-the-art command center? Ah, now there's the rub.

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