Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Do you have stairs in your house?

It is Tuesday, January Second, Two Thousand and Seven. I'm just back from "Miss Zula" Montana where I spent four days with Sam & Co. [insert more description here]

I've posted before about the deleterious effect tabbed browsing has on my attention span, but it promotes another behavioral pattern: "branching attention." My tendency toward branching attention is most obvious when I browse Wikipedia. As I read, I will detour into other topics of interest. Ten links later, I've got a scrolling row of tabs and more info than I'll ever need about the ampersand. As I finish the distal articles, I move precipitously toward the original topic, branching every now and again. At long last, I complete the prime page as well as a journey through the wisdom of man. I'm always surprised to find where I end up. One of these days I ought to map such a WikiWalk and post it.

Branching attention online is salient because it's easy to branch (open link in new tab) and it's easy to get back (close tab), but I was surprised to notice this habit persisting offline. As you may recall, I recently had some time to kill in the La Guardia Airport. The only book I recognized from terminal shop's pitiful selection was The Da Vinci Code. I read a hundred or so pages before encountering the number Phi. As chance would have it, I then happened upon a book devoted entirely to the topic of the golden ratio and I made Steve buy it for me. Da Vinci is now on hold while I read my Phi book, which I am enjoying very much. There have been numerous references to other tomes on math, art, philosophy and more, but I think I'm going to check my offline branching: books are a lot more expensive than tabs.