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Multitasking: Why Do We Do It?

We complain about split attention, but why then do we embrace distraction?

3 min read
Opening illustration for Reflections department page.
Illustration: Serge Bloch

opening illustration for reflections columnIllustration: Serge Bloch

I can’t help it. My attention span has shrunk alarmingly, and I’m easily distracted. Worse, I seem to look for and welcome distractions. I should be focusing my attention on the task at hand, which is writing this small essay. Instead I keep checking the Internet with my smartphone. I look around me at this coffee shop and everyone seems to be staring at their cellphones. I don’t think we used to be like this, and I wonder: Has technology done this to us, and if so, is this bad or good?

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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

11 min read
Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

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