Thursday 10 November 2011

Digitasking like a freak

According to Amy Gahran, mobile digital omnivores are people who are cross platform consumers of technology who use mulltiple pieces of technology, that is, people who own and use 'smartphones, tablets and other connected devices'.

I'd like to take this idea a step further a suggest that digital omnivores are also digitaskers (digital multi taskers)- people who use not only one, but multiple devices simultaneously.

Case in point:
This is my desk as I write this blog post (you'll have to excuse the mess!) I am simultaneously writing this blog post and checking my emails on my work station, using my iPad to jot down ideas for a paper that I'm working on, using my camera to take this photo (although, I didn't bring my usb cord to work today, so I had to use another device to take the photo so I could upload it!) To the right is the work laptop where I'm preparing a workshop for my colleagues on the use of interactive polling devices, and I'm also reading and highlighing a journal article in between all of this.

So you might be thinking that I'm either A) crazy B) delusional or C) all of the above, and for some people working like this may well drive them absolutely bananas. But I find that I do some of my best work like this- as the above photo is uploading on my work station, I turn to the laptop and do some more work on my presentation. Don't get me wrong, I also have the ability to set my mind to a particular task and work on it continuously, but I do find that sometimes other disctractions can start creeping in (oh look, someone just tweeted me!).

Another case in point: an interesting discussion on Twitter between @newgradlib and @katecbyrne has just distracted me from doing this post, but it has given me some interesting perspectives to think about, which I am now incorporating into this post, as I type... (the idea that digitasking can spell trouble for many people who get sidetracked onto a path that may in fact negate the productivity) But for me, this particular example of a distraction was in fact positive.

I guess what I'm saying is that there are positive distractors and negative distractors. For me, having so many devices and hence things I'm working on, on the go can prevent those negative distractors creeping in. If you want to work productively in this digitasking way, I guess you have to be able to find a way to shut out the distractors that you find work negatively against you.

Alternatively, you could take what researchers are calling a 'mental break', that is- using social media to take a break at work, which apparently can increase your work productivity by 9%!

This is a link to an article I found on ReadWriteWeb on this research, although I'm sure there are lots of people who argue for the opposite (in fact, I'm sure that I've read some of these articles!) Again, I reckon it depends on the type of person/worker you are.... Interestingly, despite all of these technological 'distractions' that I surround myself with, I can't work when music is playing, unlike some people, who can only work when music is playing. Maybe someone should create a Myers-Briggs-type assessment for people to work out what sort of worker they are???

And... while I was finishing this post, two other librarians (@misssophiemac and @pinkfairaedust) have also joined the discussion- they are excellent examples of the digitasking librarian!

My name is Crystal Choi, and I'm a digitasking librarian (and proud of it!)

Crystal is a member of the ALIA Sydney committtee and tweets @crystalibrary.

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