Tech Life I'm clearly teetering on edge of a informational nervous breakdown

Movie N.A.D.D.

I’m down to one unopened Christmas present. It’s a sealed copy of Galaxy Quest. Thanks Mom.

The second to last unopened present was Peter Seller’s Being There. A Rands Top 5 movie. I’ve seen it ten times. I’ll see it ten times more, but I won’t actually see it. I’ll glance at it… infrequently… because I have NADD.

As I wrote in the first NADD article:

My mother first diagnosed me with NADD. It was the late 80s and she was bringing me dinner in my bedroom (nerd). I was merrily typing away to friends in some primitive chat room on my IBM XT (super nerd), listening to some music (probably Flock of Seagulls — nerd++), and watching Back to the Future with the sound off (neeeeerrrrrrrd). She commented, “How can you focus on anything with all this stuff going on?” I responded, “Mom, I can’t focus without all this noise.

Lots of folks have read this article and not a single person has asked, “Why, Rands, do you watch a movie with the sound off?” I can only guess all of you fellow NADD-afflictees know about Movie NADD. It’s absolutely the best way to watch a movie as long as there is not a living breathing soul in the building.

Movie NADD is just plain old NADD except with moving pictures. It happens like this. Someone in the family turns on a movie that I’ve seen before and I plop down to watch the credits… cool… Independence Day. Great popcorn flick.

Invariable, in twenty to thirty minutes, I bail. I walk out of the living room and walk into my office where I check mail, scan headlines… I just do something else. Everyone still watching Independence Day assumes that I’m done with the movie, but I’m not. See, I’ve seen the flick before and I know the three scenes that I like… they are:

  • Aliens blowing up national landmarks
  • Will Smith punching alien
  • Will Smith / Jeff Goldblum saving the world

That’s about it. The entire movie. As soon as one of those scenes draws near, I show back up in the living room and I watch. As soon as it’s over, I’m gone again. Movie NADD. Great for me, annoying for those wondering about my comings and goings. Turns out that I’m not only saving time, I’m saving my life. I’ll explain.

The scientific community is aflutter with a concept they call “cognitive overload”. I’d point you at this article except you’ve got NADD and you want your information in bite sized chunks… so I’ll explain — cognitive overload is the absence of NADD. Cognitive overload is what happens to you when you chose not to selectively and intelligently grab bits of data from the perfect information storm that is your work day.

The formal report refers to a survey for 1000+ managers types across the world who reported “loss of job satisfaction because of stress associated with information overload”. It’s tricky not to sound like a pompous ass when I say this, but “ha ha ha”. Simple question, when you are presented with a very hard problem do you a) grind your teeth and give yourself a headache or b) solve the problem. If you answered b, keep reading.

The study goes on to wax poetic about the various ways we, as consumers of information, are inundated with information. There’s supply-related overload, oversupply of pushed information, oversupply of retrievable information, demand side overloading… Wow. Did you have any idea how bad all this information was making your life? No wonder it takes me three days to chill on vacation… I’m clearly teetering on edge of a informational nervous breakdown.

Right so, no, I’m not.

BonhambliskSee, the information wave started for me in the mid-80s and rather than waiting for a black obelisk to show up and teach me how to deal with every increasing piles of information in my life, I adapted. I created a fairly complex information management system which keeps me sane, yet, informed. If you stood over my shoulder, you would notice there are no unread messages in my inbox. You would note that while my desktop does become cluttered, it is cleansed regularly. You would slowly recognize useful window layout methodology on my desktop and you realize I rarely answer my phone because I am attempting to teach those I work with that instant messaging is faster, it is less of a distraction, and it is saved to my hard drive.

I have NADD.

Yes, my NADD best practices may strike you as odd. So are yours. I actually do like watching movies… more than most, but I’m finding myself watching more of them on my computer. I’ve got Fight Club paused in the upper right hand of second monitor right this second. It’s the introduction shot of Helena Bonham Carter… slow motion… smoke coming out of the mouth. Man, that David Fincher is a fucking genius.

Wait, what was I talking about?

3 Responses

  1. Kindred 19 years ago

    Finally! I am glad to find another soul who watches movies (and sometimes TV) in “bites”. I never feel the need to sit for an hour or two (less it be something like LOTR). Well put Rands.

  2. kristen 19 years ago

    uh…that’s three scenes. not four.


  3. Tivo extends this behavior by allowing you to pause live television up to the 30 minute buffer. Put the television on some super machine Discovery show and then pause it when the computer demands more attention. If the show is really interesting then it gets recorded when the buffer fills up.