The Distraction Addiction

Getting the Information You Need and the Communication You Want, Without Enraging Your Family, Annoying Your Colleagues, and Destroying Your Soul
by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang | 304 pages

Alex Soojung-Kim Pang is a professional futurist. (I think that is officially tied for first for the coolest job title ever. The co-winner? Professional Optimizer, of course. Hah. :) He has a PhD in the history of science and is a former Microsoft Research fellow and visiting scholar at Stanford and Oxford. I found the book fascinating and a great complement to our collection on how to conquer digital addiction. Big Ideas we explore include how to tame that monkey in your mind, email apnea (you breathing?!), the fact that "entanglement" tech is over 1 million years old ("Hi, stone tools!"), the big costs of task switching (and an easy way to feel its effects), the importance of experimenting (w/an experiment you can do today), the Latin wisdom solvitur ambulando ("it is solved by walking") and how to be an Optimizite rather than a Luddite. :)


“We want our technologies to extend our minds and augment our abilities, not break up our minds.

Such control is within our reach. Rather than being forced into a state of perpetual distraction, with all the unhappiness and discontent such a state creates, we can approach information technologies in a way that is mindful and nearly effortless and that contributes to our ability to focus, be creative, and be happy.

It’s an approach I call contemplative computing.

The terms sound oxymoronic. What could be less contemplative than today’s technology-intensive environment? What could possibly be less conducive to a clear, meditative state than interactions with computers, cell phones, Facebook, and Twitter?

Contemplative computing isn’t enabled by a technological breakthrough or scientific discovery. You don’t buy it. You do it. It’s based on a blend of new science and philosophy, some very old techniques for managing your attention and mind, and a lot of experience with how people use (or are used by) information technologies. It shows you how your mind and body interact with computers and how your attention and creativity are influenced by technology. It gives you the tools to redesign your relationships with devices and the Internet to make them work better for you. It’s a promise that you can construct a healthier, more balanced relationship with information technology.”

~ Alex Soojung-Kim Pang from The Distraction Addiction

Alex Soojung-Kim Pang is a professional futurist. (I think that is officially tied for first for the coolest job title ever. The co-winner? Professional Optimizer, of course. Hah. :)

He has a PhD in the history of science and is a former Microsoft Research fellow and visiting scholar at Stanford and Oxford.

I got this book after reading Bored and Brilliant and read it as part of my prep for Conquering Digital Addiction 101 and to continue my passionate pursuit of understanding how to Optimize our relationship to digital technology. (I read it right after I finished the Note on Lead Yourself First which focuses on the power of solitude and how hard it is to find these days given our “distraction addiction.”)

I found the book fascinating and a great complement to the others. If you’re equally passionate about understanding how to Optimize our interactions with technology and cultivate your “contemplative computing” capacity, I think you’ll also love it. (Get a copy here.)

It’s packed with Big Ideas and interesting facts. I’m excited to share some of my favorites so let’s jump straight in!

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