Rounding up some research on how we pay attention, Maria Konnikova wonders what information our brains actually pick up when we tweet – or liveblog – while we watch:
When we multitask during a presidential debate, we notice the seemingly superficial stuff: the candidates’ body language, their expressions, the dynamics of their interactions. What we fail to do is follow the subtleties of their exchanges. The irony here is that it’s the most, not the least, politically engaged viewers who are likely to do this—the pundits, the commentators, the bloggers, the columnists. Because multitaskers shift between activities more slowly, because they get sidetracked more easily, they’ll watch Obama’s downcast gaze or Romney’s widened eyes and miss the gist of a back-and-forth, especially if they’re also trying to hold a quip in their short-term memories long enough to get it out to their Twitter followers.
And then there’s the sublime, peerless Dish live-blogs which catch every tiny nuance and every exquisite exchange. While yelling at my friends to shut the fuck up I’m blogging.