Now available from Little, Brown & Co.!
I know I sound like a broken record, but it's now just one week until my book The Distraction Addiction is available in stores and online.Reviews
Every age has characteristic illnesses. The Victorians had nervous anxieties. The Roaring Twenties had psychological breakdowns. In our age, we can't concentrate. We battle to pay attention. We suffer from an illness spawned by our immersion in digital worlds. We are the prisoners of our distractions.
The Internet, and our digital devices - our laptops and smartphones especially - are often blamed for our attention deficits. Is there no remedy save for getting off the grid?
In a perceptive new study of how best to cope with the relentless interruptions presented by digital life, and its costly effects on our ability to stay focused, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang persuasively and carefully constructs a remedy he calls "contemplative computing." (San Francisco Chronicle)
His amusing and edifying new book, The Distraction Addiction... addresses those of us who feel bereft to the point of panic without our cellphones. Who worry that we are descending into early dementia, so dependent are we on our search engines to remember anything. And that, he claims, is pretty much all of us. When we’re not online, where most of us spend four months of each year, we’re engaged in the stressful work of trying to get online: "Computer users spend an average of forty-three minutes every day — five hours a week, or eleven days a year — waiting for computers to start up, shut down, load software, open files, connect to the Internet." (Washington Post)
Mr. Pang doesn’t want you to unplug. He wants you to achieve balance, to "reach flow," to achieve a "mirrorlike mind."... He gets pretty Zen. I can see Keanu Reeves in the film version. (New York Times)
In this practical guide to better, more “contemplative computing,” Pang, a historian of technology, teaches readers a valuable set of skills to better enable them to deal with an increasing reliance on ever-more intrusive and distracting forms of mobile technology. Along the way, the author provides an elegant tour through current neuroscience and an examination of the nature of attention to find better ways to handle our contemporary digital mediascape.... Pang’s methods will be familiar to readers of other time-management manifestos, but he successfully renders them concrete, practical, and contemporary. His history of technology is also fascinating, drawing from sources far removed from the digital sphere. Pang’s tome is a valuable resource for anyone seeking to take control of his or her digital life, and it’s a great primer on the interplay between mind and tech. (Publishers Weekly)
The... tools that are supposed to give us greater mobility have shackled us. We’re not mastering the gadgets; they master us, as we urgently glance at our smartphones and feel compelled to update our Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn profiles. These constant disruptions are incredibly counterproductive and inflate our sense of self-importance.... Pang is no finger-waggling Luddite. He points out that people have been attached to technology for millennia—wheel, stone ax, sword, microscope. We even bury our dead with tools. We will always be enamored of technology, but Pang suggests that we be more deliberate about how we engage with it and practice what he calls contemplative computing. (Spirituality and Health)
Pang reminds us that our brains are still capable of feats far beyond the reach of computers.... We may be afflicted with "monkey mind," he concludes, but rather than fight our compulsions with web-blocking software like Freedom, we're better off embracing technology as an extension of self, wielding it as unthinkingly as we would a bionic arm. (Mother Jones)
Pang implores us to use technology more mindfully in this thoughtful book that is rich in research and anecdote. Perfect for readers who enjoy books on the nature of attention such as Maggie Jackson and Bill McKibben's Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age and on the behavior of human-computer interaction. (Library Journal)
With the invention of personal computers and smartphones, the world of information and updates from friends and family is just a split second away. "People who spend all day with computers used to be called hackers,” writes Stanford and Oxford visiting scholar Pang. “Today, that's all of us.” This overwhelming volume of information has prompted what many call a "distraction addiction," where everything feels urgent and in need of your immediate attention; this situation usually results in ineffective multitasking. Pang offers simple techniques to create a more peaceful and productive life.... By following these methods of self-control, readers can better utilize the tools at hand and follow the buzz on the airwaves while still feeling in control of their lives. (Kirkus Review)
Pang bolsters his advice with anecdotes of intellectual breakthroughs by great thinkers of the past, coupled with interviews with present-day scientists and tech-savvy professionals. These accounts, including the surprising use of social media by Buddhist monks and a lengthy analysis of Darwin's method of reflection through walking, are the best part of Pang's book, placing today's current tech addiction into a broader context of human history, development, and philosophical insight. (Booklist)
Carr, like any number of technology sceptics, would probably have advised Pang to take a break: to disconnect from the internet and head for the mountains; to declare a gadget-free "digital sabbath" one day a week; to get rid of his smartphone or never check email at night. But Pang is a techno-enthusiast, to put it mildly, so his instinctive first thought was the opposite. What if there were a way to use the internet – and all our web-connected phones and tablets and laptops and games consoles – to foster rather than erode our attention spans, and to replace that sense of edgy distractedness with calm? (The Guardian)
The feedback on Goodreads has also been positive.