Distractions Serial and Parallel
Patri replied with a learned disquisition on the proper diagnostic tests, on the basis of which we did not qualify. My father's response was "Your mother's been saying this for many years."
Patri also described to me a math professor of his at Mudd who had been diagnosed with ADD; he dealt with the problem by having multiple projects, switching from one to another when his attention flagged. That too sounded familiar. A few minutes ago I was working on a sequel to my second novel, a little before that checking how Future Imperfect was doing on Amazon (surprisingly well), before that reading about, and verifying for myself, an extraordinary bug in the Android software that runs on my G1 phone. And at the moment I'm writing a blog post. Once it's posted I'll probably check a few Usenet groups for ongoing conversations.
Two other features of my own practice may fit, in an odd way, with this. One is that I'm not very good at multi-tasking, a weakness quite striking when I am playing World of Warcraft and trying to pay attention simultaneously to what my character is doing, how much damage he has taken, what other characters are doing, and the text messages of what other characters, human and computer generated, are saying. My kids seem able to do all that while conducting one or two conversations on the side. For what may be similar reasons, I have no interest in online chat, but spend quite a lot of time reading and participating in threaded newsgroups. And the idea of instant messaging leaves me cold. I am happy to switch from one project to another, but I want to do it by my own choice, not because someone, or something, else has just demanded my attention.
All of which may also fit with a difference I noticed long ago between me and my friend and ex-colleague Richard Epstein. I argue, and think, in series; he does it in parallel. When I point out a hole in the line of argument he is pursuing his response is not to change his position, nor to try to fix the hole, but instead to point to another of the several parallel lines of argument he has running that can get him past the problem. I have no objection in principle to that as an approach to making sense of the world, but it makes my head spin.
I wonder if Richard has tried World of Warcraft.