Simultaneous Time

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We’re spending more and more of our time in what Linda Stone calls “Continuous Partial Attention”, or “Presence Lite”. The idea of one’s presence being “sort of” there in many places, instead of completely there in one place. This could also be called simultaneous time.

Each browser tab has it's own time attached. The time of an SMS has it's own scale, vs. the time of reality. When the user is in many times and places at once without being adjacent territory without being in all of those places. Living is spread across many different distances. Games like Farmville have their own time. If one has 20 browser tabs open and is SMS'ing and sending text messages, and then switches back and forth between all of these things, then that person is only living in pieces of that reality at a time.

The point is that we live in lives whose ability to spend “complete, uninterrupted time” is truncated by the multiplicity of attention that living in Simultaneous Time brings. In a way, these micro updates are small enough to be digestible. Small enough to fit into the corners of our days and hours and minutes. Quick enough to gather with a quick glance, and minute enough to be ignored without serious guilt. They are omnipresent and neverending, always available if one only clicks. A river of data, of which no observation is the same twice. This could also be called Ambient Intimacy[1].

Side Effects

Simultaneous time results in continuous partial attention. It also causes social punctuation, as technosocial connectivity seeps into every part of social relations. The brain thinking differently when it has no inputs. When the mind is robbed of those moments of reflection (those abilities to compress like memories into like memories), then it loses the ability to free up space for other thoughts. This reduces one's ability to think, and as a result the brian as operating system suffers (the brain's ability to upgrade decreases). There is mental fragmentation. Not all of the thoughts one has in the brain are stored next to each other anymore.

Related Reading


  1. Ambient Intimacy