The Presence Deficit, Cities, Walkable Streets, HyperNormalisation, YouTube
The Weekly | Brigadoon
June 10, 2018
Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross
Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia
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Continuous partial attention and the presence deficit
The art of staying focused in a distracting world.
That is the title of an article I dumped into to my Evernote "Must Read" folder five years ago.
Five years ago.
Someone sure is distracted.
This article from The Atlantic is actually an interview between James Fallows and a longtime tech executive Linda Stone.
Stone has been working on technology longer than many of us reading this were even cognizant of activities beyond our neighborhood, and our only escape was playing floor hockey, reading the latest issue of National Geographic or mastering the foreign lands of Dungeons and Dragons.
She began working on emerging technologies for Apple and then Microsoft in the 80s.
In the early years of this century, she coined the term "continuous partial attention" to describe the modern predicament of being constantly attuned to everything without fully concentrating on anything.
Stone isn't critical of this paradigm stating that "continuous partial attention is neither good nor bad. The important thing for us as humans is to have the capacity to tap the attention strategy that will best serve us in any given moment."
This ability to execute an attention strategy is within all of us.
Most of us learned this skill in our childhood when engaging in sports or crafts or performing arts. However, some of us might need additional training that involves managing our breath and emotions—what Stone calls "bringing one’s body and mind to the same place at the same time."
She reminds us self-directed play allows both children and adults to develop a powerful attention strategy, a strategy she calls "relaxed presence."
As a kid, you developed a capacity for attention and for a type of curiosity and experimentation that can happen when you play. You were in the moment, and the moment was unfolding naturally.
Stone says" when we learn how to play a sport or an instrument; how to dance or sing; or even how to fly a plane, we learn how to breathe and how to sit or stand in a way that supports a state of relaxed presence. My hunch is that when you’re flying, you’re aware of everything around you, and yet you’re also relaxed. When you’re water-skiing, you’re paying attention, and if you’re too tense, you’ll fall. All of these activities help us cultivate our capacity for relaxed presence. Mind and body in the same place at the same time."
Maybe this is why I long for a black diamond ski run on a daily basis?
I find propelling my middle-aged body down a deep, steep, heart pounding, and knee grinding ski run to be the ultimate state of relaxation - it's just so darn fulfilling.
Descending a ski hill is by far when I am at peak relaxed presence.
How do you get into peak relaxed presence?
For me to find this state, I must put it on my calendar. I put this relaxed presence time there today, this week, this month, and this year.
I find being constantly attuned to everything without fully concentrating on anything hurts my performance, my relationships, and my health.
Making relaxed presence a habit you'll find getting offline for a spell is fine. All the noise from a distracting world you left behind will be there when you get back.
No need for FOMO.
But there is a need for peak relaxed presence.
FIVE ARTICLES TO READ
Report: Cities generated nearly all of US job growth in 2017: AP reports, American cities accounted for about 96 percent of the country’s job growth in 2017 as they added nearly 2 million new jobs, according to the latest annual report from a bipartisan coalition of mayors. The U.S. Conference of Mayors, which is gathering in Boston starting on Friday, says in its latest “Metro Economies” report that 10 metropolitan areas alone generated $6.8 trillion in economic value in 2017, surpassing the output of most states. Those metro regions included New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Houston, Philadelphia, Boston, and Atlanta. http://bit.ly/2kYQOwQ
50 reasons why everyone should want more walkable streets: From making you live longer to making cities more resilient: If you want a reason to make your city more walkable, it’s in here. http://bit.ly/2sL7E5W
The midlife tuneup: Whether you are in your 30s, 40s, 50s or beyond, the Well midlife tuneup will put you on a healthier path to improving your body, mind, and relationships. https://nyti.ms/2Hq6FNH
How Reese Witherspoon is flipping the script on Hollywood: The Hello Sunshine founder is channeling women’s voices into top-tier entertainment–and altering the dynamics of the entire industry along the way. http://bit.ly/2sDivOY
The Atlantic: Why no one answers their phone anymore https://theatln.tc/2HjosWO
What are you reading this summer?
I am putting together a summer reading list and would love to know what books the Brigadoon community is digging into.
I heard from a dozen of you yesterday and the list is diverse and insightful, as one would expect from such a talented community.
If you haven't, please drop me an email so I can add to this collection.
Brigadoon Annapolis | Salon Dinner + Lectures = September 20-21, 2018
Brigadoon Detroit | Salon Dinner = October 11, 2018
Brigadoon Cincinnati | Salon Dinner = November 1, 2018
Brigadoon Scotland 2018 = November 11-13, 2018
Brigadoon Sundance 2019 = February 24-26, 2019
More details and ticket information @ thebrigadoon.com
75 apps that will save you time as a busy professionalhttp://bit.ly/2sTfAlz
HyperNormalisation: A 2016 BBC documentary by British filmmaker Adam Curtis. In this doc, Curtis explains we live in a time of great uncertainty and confusion. Global events keep happening that seem inexplicable and out of control. Donald Trump, Brexit, the War in Syria, the endless migrant crisis, random bomb attacks. And those who are supposed to be in power are paralyzed - they have no idea what to do. This film is an epic story of how we got to this strange place. It explains not only why these chaotic events are happening - but also why we, and our politicians, cannot understand them. http://bit.ly/2sXkez3
Joe Jackson - Steppin' Out http://bit.ly/2sWIWPQ
Hotel Iroquois (Mackinac Island, MI) http://bit.ly/2sUvRXu
EAT + DRINK
Rose's Luxury (Washington, DC) http://bit.ly/2sWkLRN
Own goal: The inside story of how the USMNT missed the 2018 World Cup: The Ringer reports, in October, the United States failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in more than 30 years. A loss to Trinidad and Tobago sealed their fate, but according to players, coaches, commentators, and executives across American soccer, the disaster doesn’t come down to just one unfortunate result. No, it was the culmination of nearly a decade of mismanagement that broke the team’s spirit and condemned them to failure. http://bit.ly/2sIff5