пятница, 14 октября 2011 г.

Internet as a reason of financial crisis - an article by Helen Edwards

Here is the translation of the article by Helen Edwards, SKOLKOVO Library Project Manager, published on Slon.ru. The original text in Russian is available here.

Internet as a reason of financial crisis

Internet has significantly changed us: our everyday web surfing is influencing the way we think, and we rapidly loose our ability to concentrate on the information. There is a term “pancake people” describing people who have spread their attention as they connect with the vast network of information accessed by a touch of a button, and these are the majority of modern progressive people.

The huge volumes of information now available encourages us to skim over this content - often at a speeded up pace and while doing other things at the same time, sending emails, updating our status on Facebook and Twitter, phoning, texting, watching TV. But what is this doing to our brains? Is the quality or work affected?

Research in neuroscience shows that the brain is amazingly plastic. Our brains are able to reprogram themselves on the fly, changing the way they function. The way we access information affects the very way we think. But is this for the better? A famous article “Is Google making us stupid?” by Nicholas Carr complains that continued use of the Internet affects concentration and the ability to focus on long texts. Internet has much more information than any library in the world, but it is very much dissipated in wider and wider circles, and thus further exacerbating the difficulty of putting the pieces together.

In his new book, Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from your People, Edward Hallowell describes how the volumes of data now available can overwhelm and suffocate the brain. Excessive busyness, fragmented tasks and data overload lead people to fail simply because they are working too hard. Working ever harder becomes like bailing a sinking boat rather than plugging the leak.


In The Big Mo: Why Momentum Now Rules Our World, Mark Roeder relates the problem of the “pancake” mind to the financial crisis. The nature of financial trading means that large volumes of information have to be scanned and processed at lightning speed. Success requires being able to spot the opportunity in a shifting sea of data from a range of inputs. But even the most sophisticated analysts were unable to see the scale of the problem. The combination of volumes of data, the speed of transactions and the frenetic pace of life in the financial world blinded everyone until it was too late.

While financial crisis has already faded out, this hazard didn’t pass away. Lynda Gratton in The Shift: The Future of Work Is Already Here, identifies how we have devaluated things which have real value. People no longer settle into life long careers with one company, and as the function of parceling and passing along information is being downgraded by a combination of availability of both information and tools for creating and managing it, the shallow generalist skills are less in demand.

But who really needs to see into depths? – Tomorrow you may find yourself in another company with the same job description but higher salary. Such a race brings about more and more “pancake people”; but the paradox is that while they are successful managers and deputies, they can hardly ever become directors. Having access to all the information needed, they don’t bother seeing into depths of things. Whereas, this is the skill executives should demonstrate first of all.


8 комментариев:

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