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The Retrospectively Marvelous Part


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The Retrospectively Marvelous Part
Topic: Technology 6:58 am EDT, Jun 16, 2010

Paul Graham:

I'm not saying we should stop, but I think we should at least examine which lies we tell and why.

David Foster Wallace:

Good old traditional audio-only phone conversations allowed you to presume that the person on the other end was paying complete attention to you while also permitting you not to have to pay anything even close to complete attention to her. A traditional aural-only conversation [...] let you enter a kind of highway-hypnotic semi-attentive fugue: while conversing, you could look around the room, doodle, fine-groom, peel tiny bits of dead skin away from your cuticles, compose phone-pad haiku, stir things on the stove; you could even carry on a whole separate additional sign-language-and-exaggerated-facial-expression type of conversation with people right there in the room with you, all while seeming to be right there attending closely to the voice on the phone. And yet -- and this was the retrospectively marvelous part -- even as you were dividing your attention between the phone call and all sorts of other idle little fuguelike activities, you were somehow never haunted by the suspicion that the person on the other end's attention might be similarly divided.

Video telephony rendered the fantasy insupportable.

Caterina Fake:

All those people looking for connection, that perennial human desire. It's just insatiable.

David Foster Wallace:

One thing TV does is help us deny that we're lonely. The interesting thing is why we're so desperate for this anesthetic against loneliness.

Adam Shand:

It's possible to get accustomed to anything. Make bloody sure you are aware of what you've become accustomed to.

Linda Stone:

Continuous partial attention is neither good nor bad, it just is.

David Meyer:

People aren't aware what's happening to their mental processes, in the same way that people years ago couldn't look into their lungs and see the residual deposits.

The damage will take decades to understand, let alone fix.

Neil Howe:

If you think that things couldn't get any worse, wait till the 2020s.

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