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Bio-Trends for 2011

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  • October 21, 2010
  • Updated November 5, 2010


New Human Realities

Multi-tasking and Always On

What Price Relationships, Metal Health

(Biotech, Life Science Trends I See for 2011)

My husband and I were eating lunch at a local food court. A young man in business-casual attire was seated at the next table, completely oblivious to his surroundings, his eyes glued to his smart phone.

"Daddy, daddy, I want to show you something."

But the excited voice nearby couldn't pierce daddy's invisible wall. She tried to climb up on his knee, but he brushed her away as one would a pesky fly. I watched in amazement, but he was oblivious to me too!

The aroma of lunch, as his wife set the tray of steaming noodle dishes on the table, apparently did break through the invisible barrier -- but only momentarily, as he glanced up just long enough to position his plate in front of him as he continued reading and texting inbetween slurps.

His wife seemed a bit annoyed, but resigned, as she hushed her daughter; the family (if one could call it that) went on silently eating their noodle lunch. "She's an enabler," I thought to myself as I turned my attention back to my own lunch and husband.

One of the citations in our July 2008 research report is Nocholas Carr's requiem for our dying ability to focus: "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" Who's got time to focus, he asks. As a culture, we're caught up in surfing, texting, tweeting, TV picture-in-picture and scrolling headlines, talking on the phone ("the" phone? which one?) while driving/jogging/at the checkout counter (pick one, pick all).

This always-on culture permeates our social life as well as business. Go without Facebook for a day? The results of the initiative to forego Facebook for a day? Not too good according to Mashable.

It's an addiction, according to CNN.

Another headline article on "Information Addiction" appeared in The NY Times, "Attached to Technology and Paying a Price." And it's mmore than an article. You can link to a test that assesses your ability to focus; another tests how fast you juggle tasks.

Ok, so Google is making us stupid, and we're paying a price for being attached to technology and being overwhelmed and less productive when we're multitasking, acording to some studies.

Or not.

I could have categorized this particular prediction for 2011 under "This is Your Brain on ..." but I don't think that's what it's all about.

It's about choice. Work-family-leisure balance kinds of choices. A choice to concentrate when concentration is required. A choice to put down the tech toys and go bicycling (maybe that's not the best example, given all the tech that goes into bikes nowadays) or take a walk. A daring choice to tell the boss that you need offline time for your mental and physical health.

My guess is that the "always on" extreme end of the pendulum's oscillation will dampen. Yes, there will always be those that are seriously addicted, just like the housewives of old who spent their days listening in on the phone's party line. Some seriously addicted to technology at the expense of the "real" world may require tough-love intervention, just as compulsive gamblers do. But I think common sense will prevail among the majority.

An aside: All our gadgets and digital arrays remind me of an airplane's cockpit. Dials, switches andglowin screens surround the pilot. Lots of multi-tasking and multi-knowing is part of a pilot's job. So is focus. The same is true of air traffic controllers, emergency room workers, primary and secondary school teachers, fire fighters, day traders ... the list goes on. It's all in the balance.

Filed under: Psychology/Behavior


The Human Condition
.....This is Your Brain on ...
.....Aging Population
..........Youthful Aging
.....Human Nature - so What's New?
.....The Past In/Is Our Future

New Human Realities
.....Health Awareness
.....Multi-tasking and "Always-on"
.....Science & Education
.....Complexifying Simplicity
.....Economic Influences & Consequences
.....New Controversies & Dilemmas
.....Privacy Issues

Actions Speak Louder …
.....The New Philanthropy
.....Cooperation Rising
.....Funding, IPOs, IP

Tech Tools
.....E-books & E-learning
..........Why Print Won't Die
.....Simplifying Complexity
.....The Cloud (Computing)
.....At the Speed of … a Tweet

.....Appropriate & Sustainable Tech
.....Ag-Bio - Green Superpower
.....Going Green
..........Home Solar
.....Future Transport

Some Bio-Picks (no "movie" pun intended)
.....Disappearing Biodiversity
..........Impact of Monoculture and Locavorism
.....All Kinds of Omics
.....All things Nano

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