January 22, 2011

Don Tapscott: Designing your mind

Says Don Tapscott:
The existence of lifelong neuroplasticity is no longer in doubt. The brain runs on a "use it or lose it" motto. So could we "use it to build it right?" Surely if we are proactive, the demands of our information rich, multi-stimuli, fast paced, multitasking, digital existence can be shaped to our advantage. In fact, psychiatrist Dr. Stan Kutcher, an expert on adolescent mental health who has studied the effect of digital technology on brain development, says "There is emerging evidence suggesting that exposure to new technologies may push the Net Generation brain past conventional capacity limitations."

My own research suggests that when the straight A student is doing her homework at the same time as five other things online she is not actually multitasking. Rather she has developed a better active working memory and better switching abilities. Personally I can't read my email and listen to iTunes at the same time, but she can. She has a brain more appropriate to the demands of the digital age than I do.

How could we use design thinking to change the way we think? Good design typically begins with some principles and functional objectives.
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