updated 8/27/2010 4:55:49 AM ET 2010-08-27T08:55:49

Most of us like most of the things engineers do. Maybe we need to be careful, too. A dark side of high tech. Today, on Engineering Works! Listen to the podcast.

Most of the time, the digital world seems like a good place to be. You can talk on your cell phone, text-message to friends and surf the web. All at the same time. While you’re walking down the street.

Do it sitting at your desk and we call it multi-tasking. You can write a report, write and answer e-mails, chat online, talk on the telephone.

Everybody’s multi-tasking, it seems. A college professor once described a student in a class he visited. She was listening to the lecturer, taking notes on her laptop, Googling words she didn’t know, and IMing with a friend. Taking good notes, too, he said. As you walk down the street, at least half the people you meet are talking on their cell phones as they walk.

Sometimes the sheer volume of data we get can overwhelm us. Have you ever overlooked an important e-mail because you were busy doing other things? We’ll bet you have. And researchers say that while we think it’s cool to multi-task, nobody actually does it very well. Even worse, behavioral scientists say living in the middle of all this data can be addictive. And it can actually get in the way of creativity and sound thinking.

We’re just single-tasking and we’re quitting for today. See you next time.

Engineering Works! is made possible by Texas A&M Engineering and produced by KAMU-FM in College Station.

© 2012 Discovery Channel


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