Attention Span

by Daniel H. Steinberg

Are you paying full attention to anything you do these days? Probably not. Whether at work or at home, you probably are distracted by email, IM, the telephone, the television, and countless other distractions. We begin this podcast with Linda Stone talking about Continuous Partial Attention from her SuperNova address "Your Attention Please." Paul Graham compares amateurs and professionals in his OSCON keynote "What Business Can Learn from Open Source." We respond to a listener comment on a story we ran last week, and conclude with Ernie Prabhakar on open source from infancy to adulthood. (DTF 008 beta: 24 minutes, 30 seconds, 13.9MB)

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Distributing the Future 8: "Attention Span"

This week's show is brought to you by MAKE magazine--technology on your time.

1:12 Continuous Partial Attention

We don't pay full attention anymore. Between IM and a cell phone and glancing around to make sure we aren't missing anything on the many available social networks, we hardly notice the meeting we are supposed to be involved in. In this edited excerpt of Linda Stone's speech from SuperNova 2005, she explains the concept of Continuous Partial Attention and provides a historical context for it. You can listen to her entire address, "Your Attention Please," at ITConversations, as well as the panel discussion that followed. (7:58)

9:10 What Business Can Learn from Open Source

At OSCON 2005, Paul Graham explained, "the biggest thing business has to learn from open source is not about Linux or Firefox, but about the forces that produced them. Ultimately these will affect a lot more than what software you use." After hearing this excerpt, you may be interested in reading the essay he subsequently wrote: "What Business Can Learn from Open Source." (6:00)

15:10 Sony Phone Home

We received listener email complaining that we covered the virus and the rootkit issue in the Sony DRM case, but not the phone-home aspect. We try to rectify that and recommend that you take a look at Mark Russinovich's blog, where you will find a comprehensive series on the many issues that might concern you in this case. (3:15)

18:25 Open Source from Infancy to Adulthood

Dr. Ernest Prabhakar of Apple recently participated in a webcast on "Sustaining Open Source Innovation" and obtained permission for us to use some of it on DTF. He traces open source's growth from infancy to adulthood and looks at where the business opportunities are in open source. (5:15)

Total running time: 24:30

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Production Notes

The initial montage is from Tim O'Reilly, recorded at OSCON '04 and in a phone interview with Doug Kaye of ITConversations, and is used with permission. "The future is here, it's just not evenly distributed yet" is a quote from author William Gibson that Tim used with attribution.

The credits, including special thanks to David Battino for composing and performing the theme music. David can be found at and also edits O'Reilly's Digital Audio site. David provided a lot of help and feedback getting this program launched. We used Soundtrack Pro, Skype, Bias PEEK, and Audio Hijack Pro to put it together.

Daniel H. Steinberg is the editor for the new series of Mac Developer titles for the Pragmatic Programmers. He writes feature articles for Apple's ADC web site and is a regular contributor to Mac Devcenter. He has presented at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference, MacWorld, MacHack and other Mac developer conferences.

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