Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Rules of Distraction - Hey, you—with the laptop! Ignore your professor and read this instead:

The Internet is, of course, a distraction. There are some ground rules: I always try to position myself so my screen isn't in the line of sight of the professor or one of the teaching assistants. And after a bad pop-up ad experience, I always press the mute button. Still, even when a lecture engages me, it can be hard to pay attention when the little AIM man starts bobbing up and down at the bottom of my screen.

But are these distractions worse than the old-fashioned ones—doodling, dozing, reading, playing footsie, passing notes? Those of us mucking around on IMDB today are probably the same kids who in middle school, before the wireless age, either skipped class or wrote painfully bad rap lyrics on the inside of their notebooks. (Avi Zvi in the place to be/ Kick all ya'll again and you'll never pee … .) The students in front assiduously typing are probably the ones who spent eighth grade taking painstaking notes by hand.