A few years ago, Microsoft’s Linda Stone coined the term continuous partial attention to describe the new way of moving through tasks, time and devices that was developing in the portable digital age.
I call what we’re doing today continuous partial attention, or cpa, for short. In 1997, I created this meme to differentiate between simple and complex multi-tasking. The motivations and the effects of simple vs. complex multi-tasking appeared to be very different to me. I wanted a new name to describe what I was seeing in order to be very clear that when my mom was multi-tasking, she was doing something very different from what I found myself doing.
What does that mean to us moment to moment? Here’s a great infographic by David McCandless that brings the concept of digital distraction into a real-life framework. It’s great. And resonant.