I’ve actually lived this cartoon several times at official meetings in the past two years.

Dilbert.com

Somehow, having a laptop in front of you makes the reality of cognitive multi-tasking more tangibly visible to some leaders. When we’ve been in class or in meetings, we’ve always had trouble as human beings maintaining a singular focus on the speaker’s voice and topic. In a meeting with my laptop, I’m likely talking notes with EverNote, checking my calendar and adding items to it, and/or looking up something which is being discussed. I’m never playing Solitaire. Yet I find that in some cases, some people assume laptops are just toys and useless distractions when it comes to class lectures or formal meetings. Certainly digital technologies can be used to “distance and distract” (words from John Naisbitt in “High Tech/High Touch” I think) but in my case a laptop is a used in a meeting to digitize thoughts for indexed access afterwards, and to obtain additional information needed to process new directives.

Scott Adams has captured elements of this reality well in his cartoon today.

Thanks to James Deaton for bringing this to my attention via a tweet.

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  • http://woodennickelz.blogspot.com Jose Rodriguez

    I see exactly what you mean. I would not take my laptop to our teacher meetings or trainings because of the same reasons. Nowadays I always take it and add notes to my daily lessons, calendar and concepts maps on the meetings themselves. Nevertheless I still get a stern look from those heading the meeting and every once in a while they’ll walk behind me just to see what I am doing. I gladly share with them and then they are ok with it.

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  • Vicki Brown

    I’ve watched many people play Solitaire, minecraft, or any number of games, check their email, IM to friends or co-workers not in the meeting. You’re being professional, many people arem’t.

    Ive even been in meetings where the person running the meeting suddenly became engrossed in a new piece of email and his mind left the meeting. Ooooh Shiny!

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