Monday, April 28, 2014

G166 Book Review of The Distraction Addiction; Getting the information you need and the communication you want, without enraging your family, annoying your colleagues, and destroying your soul

Title of the book: The Distraction Addiction; Getting the Information you need and the communication you want without enraging your family, annoying your colleagues, and destroying your soul.

Author: Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

Publisher: Little Brown and Company

Publishing Date: 2013

ISBN: 978-0-316-20826-0


The question of our time: can we reclaim our lives in an age that feels busier and more distracting by the day?
We've all found ourselves checking email at the dinner table, holding our breath while waiting for Outlook to load, or sitting hunched in front of a screen for an hour longer than we intended.

Mobile devices and the web have invaded our lives, and this is a big idea book that addresses one of the biggest questions of our age: can we stay connected without diminishing our intelligence, attention spans, and ability to really live? Can we have it all?

Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, a renowned Stanford technology guru, says yes. THE DISTRACTION ADDICTION is packed with fascinating studies, compelling research, and crucial takeaways. Whether it's breathing while Facebook refreshes, or finding creative ways to take a few hours away from the digital crush, this book is about the ways to tune in without tuning out.

Other Works:

He wrote a book titled Empire and the Sun: Victorian Solar Eclipse Expeditions which was published in 2002




"You are the inheritor of a contemplative legacy that you can use to retake control of your technologies, to tame the monkey mind, and to redesign your extended mind. Connection is inevitable. Distraction is a choice." (229)

Problems addressed: 

"The monkey mind's constant activity reflects a deep restlessness: monkey can't sit still because their minds never stop.Likewise, most of the time, the human mind delivers up a constant stream of consciousness. Even in quiet moments, minds are prone to wandering...the monkey mind is attracted to today's infinite and ever-changing buffet of information choices and devices. It thrives on overload, is drawn to shiny and blinky things, and doesn't distinguish between good and bad technologies or choices." (4)

Summary of the Content:

Apparently people aren't created to cope with modern world or technology overload, thus the author introduces humans to programs that should help them slightly regain the world they have lost through devices and whatnot.


"There are eight principles for contemplative computing. You're using them when you learn to be aware of how devices and media affect your breathing and mood; when you replace switch-tasking with real multitasking; when you adopt tools and practices designed to protect your attention; when you tweet mindfully; when you employ restorative spaces and digital Sabbaths to recharge your mind. Being familiar with the eight principles and seeing how they connect entanglement, Zenware, mindfulness, self-experimentation, and restoration can help you create relationships with information technologies that improve your extended mind. Their presence signals that you're using technologies in ways that will let you improve your mind and restore your focus and concentration; their absence is a sign that your relationship with your technologies isn't working for you." (216)

Main points:

*Eight Steps to Contemplative Computing

Why book is interesting:

Certain things I learned, such as about email and lack of breathing, I had no idea, or how a lot of people are hooked to constantly checking email and other stuff as well. Very eye-opening. I did find writing and stories interesting, but I do feel that the author went a little too long with them, and sometimes I looked at the chapter heading and then what I was reading and often wondered how does what I'm reading relate to the chapter heading?

Supports thesis:

The book does support the thesis, but the thing is that the thesis is at the end of the book rather than beginning, thus through the whole book I had no idea how everything connects until the very end.

Addressing Issues:

Instead of people controlling and using technology mindfully, its the other way around which isn't a good thing at all. People sacrifice time and everything else just to check Facebook or email or whatnot. (Fine I'm guilty of email thing myself...) and the author cautions to take breaks and at times enjoy time and life without Facebook or email and so forth.

Book Ideas vs World ideas:

I can imagine that his advice will help people reconnect and will prevent soul destruction. I also imagine that should the advice be followed, who knows, the world will become slower and peaceful instead of quick and harried.


To some extent I do agree with the author's conclusions and advice, but I guess I wanted something a bit more concrete and realistic instead of something that seemed out of reach of many. (Flying on a place as peaceful? I can't afford to fly) I also would guess that a lot of it could be something like this: be ready for the future technology! And at one point, I thought that the chapter headings were switched because the writing didn't match up to them.


The author was extremely detailed when it came to various sources


I would read it and I did find it interesting, but the things that stopped me from giving it five stars and instead I had to resort it to three is that the thesis is at the back instead of the front, and that the stories went for a little too long and didn't seem to match up to chapter headings. Also, for some odd reason, the writing was a bit childish for me.

Quick notes: I won this book on thus this review will appear in its entirety on goodreads as well as the blog.

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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