Workers in the digital era can feel at times as if they are playing a video game, battling the barrage of e-mails and instant messages, juggling documents, Web sites and online calendars. To cope, people have become swift with the mouse, toggling among dozens of overlapping windows on a single monitor.
But there is a growing new tactic for countering the data assault: the addition of a second computer screen. Or a third.
This proliferation of displays is the latest workplace upgrade, and it is responsible for the new look at companies and home offices — they are starting to resemble mission control.
For multiscreen multitaskers, a single monitor can seem as outdated as dial-up Internet. “You go back to one, and you feel slow,” said Jackie Cohen, 42, who uses three 17-inch monitors in her home office in San Francisco, where she edits a blog about Facebook.
Her center screen shows what she is writing or editing, along with e-mail and instant messages; the left and right monitors display news sites, blogs and Twitter feeds, and she keeps 3 to 10 tabs open on each. One monitor recently broke, and she felt hamstrung. “I don’t want to miss seeing something,” Ms. Cohen said.
And of course there is "research" to show that the more monitors you have, the more productive you are - "research" funded by (you guessed it!) a computer monitoring company:
The main rationale for a multimonitor setup is that it increases productivity. But that notion is not simple to prove or measure, partly because it depends on the kind of work people do and whether they really need to be constantly looking at multiple data streams. Another theory holds that people have just grown so addicted to juggling that having more monitors simply creates a compulsion to check them.
One study, by the University of Utah, found that productivity among people working on editing tasks was higher with two monitors than with one. The study was financed with about $50,000 by NEC Display, which had hoped to find evidence that companies should buy more monitors to increase productivity. (Other tech companies also promote multiple displays — one Hewlett-Packard ad declares that “two is better than one.”)
The author of the study, James A. Anderson, a professor of communication, said he had not been influenced by NEC’s financing. He said he uses three monitors himself, but also said that it was hard to generalize about whether more monitors are better.
I'm going to be blunt here.
Humans are stupid fucking creatures.
We think we're so brilliant with our technology and our advances, with our math and science and engineering.
And yet, all we've done is allowed the powers that be to ties chains around us.
These chains have brand names on them like APPLE, MICROSOFT, FACEBOOK, and GOOGLE.
And we're connected to these chains 24/7, 365 days a year.
In the process, we have lost our humanity, lost our souls, lost our sanity - and we think this is progress!
Mind-forged manacles indeed.
This is why education reform insists that in order for teachers to be "effective," they must use technology in every lesson (and in the planning of lessons too!)
They want us to educate the next generation to be skilled enough to run an office using all this technology, but dumb enough to think there's nothing dehumanizing or evil about this.
But the end game for this is coming.
Even the Times article on multi-monitors notes this:
David E. Meyer, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan whose research has found that multitasking can take a serious toll on productivity, said he buys the logic about toggling. But he also warned that productivity can suffer when people keep interrupting their thoughts by scanning multiple screens rather than focusing on one task.
“There is ‘thought-killing’ going on,” Professor Meyer said. “Rome crashed and burned because it got too big. Go past that scale and you’re going to wind up like Rome.”