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Old April 10th, 2012, 10:02 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Modern Day Attention Span - Thoughts Exposed

Was deep in thought this evening (30 secs or so) and it occurred to me that I don't listen to music like I used to. I remember years ago (15 - 20 or so and my whole life prior) when I'd sit down with my turntable and listen to full albums front and back, start to finish.

It all started in a small apartment in Purcellville Va, 1965, at the age of 4, Saturday morning when my mom was cleaning house and I'd be sitting in the corner of the living room spinning records on the RCA tube driven record player. My parents were sort of cool, their collection included Elvis, The Platters (I love that stuff), Dave Clark, Chubby Checker, Johnny Cash. My aunt would sneak me Beatles records. I'd read the album liners over and over. This grew into my pre teen years where I'd author a neighborhood "record review" publication weekly where me and a friend would spin 45's on a Saturday morning and rate them and go door to door selling our record review. We'd listen to whatever was on "pop" radio at the time. Then later in life when I was gigging full time I'd buy albums and sit in my apartment and listen just like I did when I was a little boy.

Although I buy a moderate amount of new stuff on iTunes today, I hardly ever take the time to listen to "albums" all the way through. I bore easily...

So, Why is this?

My theory:

I've adopted a short attention span..at my job I am constantly multitasking, writing while on conf calls, answering calls from my employees, running all over the DC metro region in my car, answering emails and texts on my iPhone. Additionally with the advent of CD's in the late 80's early 90's, it became much easier to hit "next" if the opening 30 seconds of a song didn't catch me. Electronic music has no visual appeal...

Video killed the radio star, but technology killed the music listener.....

This has also affected my recording and writing process as I probably have 30 songs or so "half finished"

Thoughts?

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Old April 10th, 2012, 10:07 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I dont like modern pop music. I do use an iPod but spin rexords
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Old April 10th, 2012, 10:12 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I never listen to music much at home, but I love buying new CD's and playing them all the way through in my truck while driving, I find trying to listen to an album while sitting at home painfully boring, but listening to it while driving is relaxing and helps pass the time
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Old April 10th, 2012, 10:13 PM   #4 (permalink)
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my thought is... don't do that.

you can pick, you know. you have impulse control. You can do it.. you just have to pick.

a considered life is a great value!

I was in so cal over the holiday and hooked up an apple tv for my brother in law... and icloud and his music library... and his fancy electric television was hooked to a great 7.1 (or whatever) sound system.. and we sat, for the first time in a long time, and 'listened to records'

my brother in law is like a poster child for ADD and has the attention span of a gnat... and we had a blast...

the problem is not in our stars nor our technology... it is the same old culprit it has always been... just us.
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Old April 10th, 2012, 10:18 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by getbent View Post
the problem is not in our stars nor our technology... it is the same old culprit it has always been... just us.

Dang, sometimes the truth hurts. But me thinks you are absolutely correct.
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Old April 10th, 2012, 10:20 PM   #6 (permalink)
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The other night, I was home by myself, and I sat and listened to both sides of Dexter Gordon's Dexter Calling. It was a great way to end an evening.
I've decided to do that at least once a month. There's something really relaxing about doing nothing but listen to great music. You have to pick just the right albums though.
I'll spend hours on Youtube, listening to a wide range of music, but there's something different about listening to one album from beginning to end.
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Old April 10th, 2012, 10:44 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I'm absolutely convinced that my attention span has ... hey an email...
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Old April 10th, 2012, 10:52 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Get rid of the TV, the computer, and the family. You'll listen to a LOT more music.

At least, that's my theory. I'm not gonna try it willingly.
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Old April 10th, 2012, 10:54 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I'm absolutely convinced that my attention span has ... hey an email...
the problem is it's easy to get dis
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Old April 10th, 2012, 10:56 PM   #10 (permalink)
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See, I'm kinda like that during the week. I listen to a little music here and there when I can. On my iPod on the train, on the Utubes at night, etc. But on the weekends, I'm usually puttering around the house for long periods of time doing chores and will spin whole vinyl albums, literally for hours and hours. At least that's what I always did until the belt on my turntable wore out for good about a month ago, dangit! Now I'm getting reacquainted with my CDs and cassettes. I forgot I had Hendrix Nine to the Universe on casette until I dug into the archives a few weeks ago. I also still make mixed tapes on casette about once a year. That takes a whole lotta patience and some time to kill but it's well worth the effort when you get one that flows really well.
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Old April 10th, 2012, 11:21 PM   #11 (permalink)
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the problem is it's easy to get dis
My mum said "Always finish what you st
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Old April 10th, 2012, 11:28 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greytop View Post
My theory:

I've adopted a short attention span..at my job I am constantly multitasking, writing while on conf calls, answering calls from my employees, running all over the DC metro region in my car, answering emails and texts on my iPhone.
<snip>
Video killed the radio star, but technology killed the music listener.....

This has also affected my recording and writing process as I probably have 30 songs or so "half finished"

Thoughts?
I would say you hit the nail on the head, and there are experts in the field who agree with you: Crazy Busy.

Doc Hallowell in "Crazy Busy" says that symptoms that once plagued only those people who actually had ADD began to surface in the general population around the time "multitasking" became widespread. At around the same time that a majority of people began to use PC's, email, the internet, the cellphone, and so many other technologies that compete for our attention, just about everyone started to act as if they had ADD. As I recall, he placed this turning point somewhere in the vicinity of the year 2000 or so.

Suddenly, "normal" people - people who did not actually suffer from the clinical condition of attention deficit disorder - began to have many of the same symptoms as actual sufferers of ADD. (And yes, that includes starting, but not finishing, tons of projects.)

I see it constantly in the young people I work with. Many of them cannot stay on any one task for more than a few seconds without losing concentration and forgetting what they were trying to do.

I'm not immune, of course. Like you, I have half a dozen half-finished projects, and chores that are being neglected. I still read daily, but rarely read an entire book at a sitting, as I routinely did in my teens and twenties.

Our lives are filled with dozens, even hundreds of things competing for our attention. If we allow ourselves to succumb to them, and let them flip-flop our attention around for years on end, eventually, like B.F. Skinners pigeons, we end up training our own brains to be unable to stay on any one topic for long. We train our brains to hop from one topic to another. We act as though we have ADD.

Once I realised this, I started thinking of ways to undo, or at least minimise, the damage. One obvious answer was to make it a point to practice focussing my mind on a single topic and keeping it there regularly. Another was to remove as many of these random distractions as possible from my life. A third was to try to counteract the effects of an enforced period of distractions by a subsequent period of meditative concentration.

I've found quiet walks in the park - without a cellphone or any other distracting technology - can be helpful. A good music jam with friends is a great way to focus on living instead of being distracted for a while. Even a solid music practice session at home, with a goal to achieve for the day and a metronome to keep me on task, can help.

I (and my wife) no longer watch TV programs (with their endless ADD-inducing ad breaks). We do still watch DVD's and BluRay's - I'd be willing to try giving them up too, but my wife grew up with TV and has already made a big adjustment in giving that up, and I don't think she'd go for giving up the idiot-box altogether. I don't have a "smartphone" (a tragic name for a mindless device that robs people of their attention span and makes them less able to perform tasks that require actual intelligence). I have zero interest in the endless distractions of Twitter, Facebook, and whatever other senseless craze du jour crops up this week. I answer my email once a day, and refuse to be distracted by it the rest of the time.

So I'm trying to keep the endless parade of meaningless distractions out of my life. But it's an uphill battle, because our entire society (and economy) is geared towards constantly grabbing your attention in order to try to get more money out of your wallet. Finding and keeping focus among the endless distractions is really challenging.

Speaking of which, it's about time for today's music practice...now where's my metronome??

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Old April 10th, 2012, 11:48 PM   #13 (permalink)
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what was this about again?..

oh yeh .. right.... good post, Gnobuddy.... you should have more... buddies that is..

I'm glad they didn't know about ADD when I was at school... I'd have been labelled for sure... and sent to the ADD gulag classes... group W.. get to play with pens and stuff...
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Old April 11th, 2012, 03:44 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Music has devalued.

I can listen to anything I damn well please right now, instantly on YouTube.

Also, it's a cumulative thing. The old stuff is still there, but since my "musical development years" (14-20) there is about ten times as much. Everyone and their dog is recording now.

Here in Australia we have a national radio station completely devoted to "unsigned" (whatever that is now days) bands and artists.

http://www.triplejunearthed.com/
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Old April 11th, 2012, 03:57 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I still always listen to full albums whether it's on my portable music device, computer or stereo.

Because I'm cool like dat?
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Old April 11th, 2012, 05:06 AM   #16 (permalink)
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I think the internet is killing my attention span, I can't bear to watch scheduled TV anymore and skim read all sorts in search of this or that which will amuse.

I skim read the replies to your thread and someone's skim reading this. It's how we parse information in the modern world.

In need of Topographic Ocean therapy...

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Old April 11th, 2012, 05:15 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Maybe I'm weird, but technology hasn't really changed how I behave. I always preferred to "multi-task". I think that is a very poor term to describe what people do. In fact we don't do multiple tasks at the same time, we actually sequentially task things.

I have always and still do switch between activities and projects. There is a simple reason why I do this. It's how we are supposed to do things. Especially intellectual things. Our concentration and efficiency declines the longer we perform a single task. There are optimal times to spend doing those tasks. Usually determined by the physical and mental effort they require. Also the very act of changing activity (if done correctly) can help you maintain a higher level of activity for longer, even if it's not with the same activity.

For example I have lots of books on the go at one time. I will read until I feel that my ability to take in the information is being compromised. Often then I'll take a break do something else and return to a different book. I'll be trying to analyze and fix in my brain the information I've just taken in and only after that do I go back to the book.

You can easily sit there and read a book from beginning to end, but what usually happens then is you take in less detail and have less room for you own thoughts. People on the whole didn't evolve to read novels at a pop (they weren't even designed to be read like that in the first place) it just happens books end up a certain size and now often appear as a singular volume. In that way they are more unnatural then modern technology.

The same can be said for music. Albums are that length not because it's optimum for listening, but because that just happened to be the most information you could put onto the format record companies decided upon. There is no reason why people should have to alter their attention span to conform to what is an essentially arbitrary form.

On the whole people's attention spans and ability to take in information is rapidly improving as technology and society evolves. That leaves some people in the dust. For activities that still require longer attention spams for people to prosper they will remain. I think it's less modern technology is destroying our concentration and more likely human beings were yoked to the pace of archaic machinery.
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Old April 11th, 2012, 07:58 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Maybe I'm weird, but technology hasn't really changed how I behave. I always preferred to "multi-task". I think that is a very poor term to describe what people do. In fact we don't do multiple tasks at the same time, we actually sequentially task things.

I have always and still do switch between activities and projects. There is a simple reason why I do this. It's how we are supposed to do things. Especially intellectual things. Our concentration and efficiency declines the longer we perform a single task. There are optimal times to spend doing those tasks. Usually determined by the physical and mental effort they require. Also the very act of changing activity (if done correctly) can help you maintain a higher level of activity for longer, even if it's not with the same activity.

For example I have lots of books on the go at one time. I will read until I feel that my ability to take in the information is being compromised. Often then I'll take a break do something else and return to a different book. I'll be trying to analyze and fix in my brain the information I've just taken in and only after that do I go back to the book.

You can easily sit there and read a book from beginning to end, but what usually happens then is you take in less detail and have less room for you own thoughts. People on the whole didn't evolve to read novels at a pop (they weren't even designed to be read like that in the first place) it just happens books end up a certain size and now often appear as a singular volume. In that way they are more unnatural then modern technology.

The same can be said for music. Albums are that length not because it's optimum for listening, but because that just happened to be the most information you could put onto the format record companies decided upon. There is no reason why people should have to alter their attention span to conform to what is an essentially arbitrary form.

On the whole people's attention spans and ability to take in information is rapidly improving as technology and society evolves. That leaves some people in the dust. For activities that still require longer attention spams for people to prosper they will remain. I think it's less modern technology is destroying our concentration and more likely human beings were yoked to the pace of archaic machinery.
This reminds me of my thoughts upon hearing a guitarist playing a simple figure that repeats throughout or even for lengthy segments of a song.

no matter how simple, playing that figure over and over for me is almost impossible as those muscle movements and the attention focused upon maintaining them become impossible to sustain.
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Old April 11th, 2012, 08:04 AM   #19 (permalink)
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I was going to reply to this thread, but then I got a text on my smart phone.
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Old April 11th, 2012, 08:59 AM   #20 (permalink)
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As we age, our reliance on outside stimuli decreases and our reliance on our own internal thought process increases (hopefully). Music and movies don't seem to affect us as much. It's called maturation. A natural occurence. We also become increasingly social and accepting of our surroundings and the people we encounter on a daily basis. IE: friendlier.

So, that's my opinion...if you don't like it...shove it up your.....

I must leave now to go listen to some death metal and worship an occult.

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