Monday, May 01, 2006

Slow Down, You Fools!

I like this article by Tony Long on speed in Wired. Especially good is the way he links radio format changes with cultural changes. Classical stations have taken to cutting up symphonies so their harried listeners don't have to listen for too long. He doesn't note it, but many radio stations have taken to playing the oldies at a faster speed than they were recorded to match contemporary tastes, which would seem to prove his point as well. That point?

Speed kills. That used to refer to the dangers of driving too fast, and sometimes to the drug.
Now it more ominously refers to the unhealthy pace at which we live our lives, coerced by rampaging technology into cramming as much as possible into our waking hours. This isn't good for an individual's well-being. But even if you're indifferent to everyone's need for a little wa, the bean counter in you should appreciate this: It's also counterproductive.

Numerous studies link falling worker productivity to the advent of e-mail, mobile phones, BlackBerries and instant messaging. The ability to communicate instantaneously, around the clock (or, if you prefer, 24/7), with colleagues and clients may seem like a good idea at first blush. But healthy humans know when to down tools and head for the hills. The problem is that we're always on the grid now, always reachable and constantly bombarded, blurring the distinction between work and leisure time.

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