...or; Nerd Attention Deficiency Disorder

I'm in the midst of reading a post by Michael Lopp about how most nerds have the ability and/or bad habit to multitask extensively. I won't even try to deny that I do this, though I like to think I'm keeping it on manageable levels. It is however fascinating to see what actually goes on from time to time.

But first, here's what triggered me into writing this...

Stop reading right now and take a look at your desktop. How many things are you doing right now in addition to reading this column? Me, I’ve got a terminal session open to a chat room, I’m listening to music, I’ve got Safari open with three tabs open where I’m watching Blogshares, tinkering with a web site, and looking at weekend movie returns. Not done yet. I’ve got (...)

Admittedly I can end up with a lot of open windows, tabs and ongoing tasks once every now and then, just as I am right now. Thought it might be fun sharing, so here's the applications, tabs and stuff around me I'm interacting with...

  • I'm currently working on my notebook PC.
    • As always I have an instance Windows Explorer open.
    • I just did some modifications to SparkCMS to make it handle fragment identifiers (in URIs) found in document excerpts. This was done in PsPad, where I have 10 tabs/documents opened (all source code for the CMS).
    • I have 3 Opera windows open
      • 1st window has 9 tabs; SparkCMS, my site, a debug output of a feed and four other somewhat related documents. Lastly there's two different versions of a Opera Mobile Startpage I'm working on.
      • 2nd window has 7 tabs; a post from Mark Willison with a quote from Matt Mullenweg. Matt's post where he mentions something written by Michael Lopp about N.A.D.D. Michael Lopps original post about him suffering from N.A.D.D. (the post I'm in the midst of reading). The last three tabs are a post by Hugh MacLeod, that via David Shrigley's site have, lead me to a music video by Blur on YouTube. This specific Opera window have actually been with me for the last three of four days...
      • 3rd window has 19 tabs; Google Reader and 18 articles/posts I've decided to read later.
    • I have two instances of OpenOffice Writer
      • In the first I'm writing a post about why Matt is wrong about disconnecting from the net to be more efficient (I'll add a link to it once I've posted it).
      • The other being the document I'm writing this post in
    • I have a mail checker that just seconds ago notified me of a new email, I've already read and archived deleted the email.
    • Lastly there's FileZilla that's downloading some web server logs (to the folder currently opened in the above mentioned Explorer window).
  • I'm listening to music (Beck's Guero). Or to be more exact; I'm streaming music from my desktop PC to the stereo using a media player.
  • The TV is on "in the background". A commercial for a TV show I'd like to watch (a Norwegian version of "School of Rock") was just shown. There's a sneak preview on Saturday, while the show is being aired on Mondays at eight.
  • I just made an entry on my phones calendar to check out "School of Rock". The phone is connected to the PC and thus it started syncing with the PC, this in turn triggered a failed at syncing attempt with Google Calendar.

Or from a slightly different perspective, here's the stuff I'm currently using and/or interacting with (ignoring indirect stuff like coffee makers, routers and web servers hosting sites that I'm only visiting);

  • 2 pc's
  • 1 TV
  • 1 stereo receiver
  • 1 media player
  • 1 mobile phone
  • 1 web server (via FTP)
  • 2 mail servers
  • 1 online calendar service

A couple of hours have passed since I wrote the above lists, I've (amongst other things ;-) read the rest of Michael Lopp's post. In order to cut down on some of the silliness (and unnecessary power consumption), I've turned of the desktop PC, media player, stereo receiver and the TV. Instead I'm listening to music from my laptop using headphones.

I've probably been like this most of my life. Watching cartoons while eating breakfast, listening to music while doing homework and reading comics when attending lectures. Doing multiple things at the same time when in front the computer comes naturally. The fact that computers are designed for multitasking just makes it that much easier to handle, in turn making it more likely to do even more things at any given time.

As I wrote early on in this post, I truly believe I'm keeping it to manageable levels. At least most of the time. From time to time, this does get me into situations where I have a lot of things going on that needs closure, completion or resolution. That's when "suffering from this disorder" is at its toughest, trying to complete one task without adding two or three new ones.

Now I'm going to the kitchen to do the dishes and make dinner while I help Cecilie with her math/spreadsheet homework...

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