Fully Wired and Ready to Process: The Second Screen
Instead of taking a deeper look at a biologically caused brain condition that changes how we think, this week we are going to talk about a cultural condition that, like it or not, is changing how we act and process information — “the Second Screen”.
The Second Screen was originally presented as the idea that we have more than one device with a screen open and active as we watch TV.
I believe the Second Screen goes way beyond that: it is the reality of the active mind and, in essence, is code for what we do in our short attention span world, even when we are really interested in something. We Second Screen (yes, I just used that phrase as a verb) when we just have to know MORE… right now, because we can!
The first time I heard the phrase Second Screen this week was in a webinar on gamification and online engagement presented by an amazing speaker and completely engaging guy, Gabe Zichermann. I was thoroughly engrossed in the topic, interested in what he had to say on more than one level, and honestly felt I was giving this webinar my full attention. Then this powerful guy quoted a Nielsen study that said this: 4/5ths – 80% — of all people watch TV with a computer, a smart phone, a connected reading device, or a tablet open, active, and ready to check email, surf, post a message on Facebook, share a photo on Instagram, make a comment…. I thought: what a crazy notion. And then I looked around my desk…. I had the webinar running on my laptop. Also, on my laptop, I had a screen open that lead to my email (notification sounds on). My smart phone was sitting next to me (with notification sounds on). The desktop computer to my right was open to a browser just in case I wanted to research something presented in the webinar, in the moment. Wow, what an eye opener.
Then this morning I read a piece from The Harvard Business Review’s blog called Four Innovation Trends to Watch. Section 2: Second Screens and Monetizing Multitasking.
“Attention is no longer undivided. Multitasking rules. Kindle readers tweet commentary about the ebooks and magazines they’re reading; folks chatting on their iPhones use their tablets to turn real-time conversations into livestreamed blogs. The mix of device mobility and multiplicity makes people into multimedia ‘prosumers;’ nobody is doing ‘just one thing’ anymore.”
Which led me to a Wired’s piece in their Gadget Lab:
“This is the second-screen culture we keep hearing about, where we take to a phone or a tablet to talk about the things we’re seeing on TV. Even when it comes to Sandy’s destruction, or Houston’s self-destruction, when news hits we no longer just digest it; we go online to disseminate, dissect and discuss it. This isn’t a new behavior, of course. It’s the water cooler writ large, all across the planet, all at once. Except instead of taking place the day after an event, Twitter and Facebook and the like let us talk about events as they happen.”
So… what does all this mean for attention and brain science? I think we stop talking about how multitasking is bad for us. That only breeds guilt. Let’s change the question and embrace the fact that we are privileged enough to live in a world where we have incredible access to all kinds of information and we should use it all to make ourselves and our world’s better. We are all distracted and maybe that is what will, in the end, make us learn better and more.
New question: How do we thrive in this world where we have to filter, search, and sort through all the rich information at our finger tips?
The really important thing is to learn how to screen and filter, or as we say at http://www.craniumcrunches.com, search and sort, so that you don’t miss those nuggets sitting right in front of you. Learn to thrive from within this information rich world.
How do you successfully multitask?