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Attention Deficits

Podcast with award-winning author and columnist, Maggie Jackson.

Maggie Jackson Maggie Jackson

"It's official: The average knowledge worker has the attention span of a sparrow. Roughly once every three minutes, typical cubicle dwellers set aside whatever they're doing and start something else — anything else." Maggie Jackson

Welcome to a Big Picture edition of Total Picture Radio with Peter Clayton reporting. Joining us today: Maggie Jackson, an award-winning author and columnist whose book, Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age, (affiliate link to details the steep costs to our epidemic attention-deficits, while showing how a new science of attention can help us overcome a culture of speed and overload. Ms. Jackson writes the popular "Balancing Acts" column in the Boston Globe and her work has appeared in The New York Times and on National Public Radio, among other national publications.

"Constant interruptions are the Achilles' heel of the information economy in the U.S. These distractions consume as much as 28% of the average U.S. worker's day, including recovery time, and sap productivity to the tune of $650 billion a year, according to Basex, a business research company in New York City."

Talking Points: Questions Peter Clayton Asked Maggie Jackson

  • What drew you to this topic?
  • You write: "Roughly once every three minutes, typical cubicle dwellers set aside whatever they're doing and start something else—anything else." How did you come up with three minutes?
  • What distracts us? Is this all technology?
  • What is the cost in the workplace of our ADD?
  • What are companies doing to combat this?
  • You write about three types of attention - focus - awareness - and what you call executive attention - can you explain these to us?
  • Can you explain attenentional user interfaces and how they work?
  • You describe attention as the contuctor of the syphony orchestra of our mind. So what can we do to take better control of the orchestra?
  • In doing the research for your book, what did you learn that can help us stay engaged - or not loose our concentration every 3 minutes

Maggie Jackson Biography

Maggie Jackson is an award-winning author and journalist known for her penetrating coverage of U.S. social issues. She writes the popular "Balancing Acts" column in the Sunday Boston Globe, and her work has also appeared in The New York Times, Gastronomica and on National Public Radio.

Her latest book, Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age, details the steep costs of our current epidemic deficits of attention, while revealing the astonishing scientific discoveries that can help us rekindle our powers of focus in a world of speed and overload.

Her acclaimed first book, What's Happening to Home? Balancing Work, Life and Refuge in the Information Age, examined the loss of home as a refuge.

A former foreign correspondent for The Associated Press in Tokyo and London, Jackson has won numerous awards for her coverage of work-life issues, including the Media Award from the Work-Life Council of the Conference Board.

In 2005-2006, she was a journalism fellow in child and family policy at the University of Maryland. A graduate of Yale University and the London School of Economics with highest honors, she lives in New York city with her family.

Peter Clayton

About Peter Clayton

Peter Clayton, Producer/Host, is an award-winning producer/director of radio, television, documentary, video, interactive and Web-based media who has created breakthrough media for a wide array of Fortune 100 clients.


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