Kathy Sierra said she was inspired by Linda Stone's talk on Continuous Partial Attention, but that she was surprised by the reaction she got to an unfavorable blog she posted about Twitter, so the topic is clearly polarizing.
Linda gave a 10,000 foot summary of her talk. She said recently she's been working with researchers at the NIH looking at what happens in the body when you timeslice. MRIs show some effects in the brain, but more interesting are breathing patterns. People timeslicing tend to stop breathing, and their CO2 levels soar. The folks at Twitter and say there are two clear user patterns emerging 1) Grandstanders who want to tell you everything they are doing and 2) Engaging in Continuous Partial Friendship (as coined by Dave Weinberger).
Dan Russell alked about his research into how attention works. High jitter (frequent interrupts) can be smoothed over in User Design by normalizing the timeslice...we can handle frequent interruptions so long as the interval is consistent (so in IRC for instance, you may be timeslicing conversations, but the rate of new messages is fairly consistent). But, stacking interruptions (you're in the middle of a task and a completely different task interrupts) cause chaos. Popping the stack is again as simple as breathing. Meditators may be on to something.
Kathy spoke about "clicker training" for pets and how our email queue is an intermittent variable reward and is clicker training us to keep checking back for more "treats" (emails). On her Twitter post: What she actually said was that Twitter was causing so many interrupts that she doesn't know how anyone is getting things done. High-order experts have a genetic predisposition to hyper focus, not to timeslice.
Linda said the gaming industry is starting to shift to design games from Continuous Partial Attention "shooter" games to logic games that give birth to deeper thinking.
Audience discussion: Our generation has grown up with a high level of signal-to-noise, and kids today are perhaps even more able to handle these tendencies (is this just Evolution?). Cory Doctorow said that his writing style has evolved to only a daily 20 minutes of dedicated writing. Is this an age thing? We had a Twitter employee Blaine Cook is in the audience, who said that demographically the users are actually "old" (other than him anyway...he's 27). Inductive vs. deductive thinking came up...do inductive thinkers love interrupt because it allows a background process to cook? Linda pointed out that dedication to a task (intention) is antithetical to accepting interrupt (so Cory's 20 minutes are very very focused). Linda pointed out that rock climbing is a very intentional task.