I was blown away by the ideas in Linda Stone’s talk at O’Reilly’s e-tech conference, summarized on Radar. In a nutshell, she talks about the limits of "continuous partial attention" and urges that we use employ "quality of life" as the benchmark for adopting new technologies. It reminded me of an idea expounded by Frank Moretti at the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning in his History of Communications class. In sum, modern, web connected society may herald a return to pre-literate, oral cultures–where the notion of the self was something that existed outside of us–where we responded like a chorus and pinned our actions on the furies. Does continuous partial attention really mean that we’re not paying attention to what’s important to us? Or is it just adaptatation to new tools? Like Stone, I’m inclined to agree about smarter technologies really being able to help us manage what’s important and what’s not. Just being able to create a master feed on Bloglines is a massive improvement on surfing from one site to another–of course, it means that one can consume even more, which brings me back to her question: how is this technology improving my quality of life?