To begin, I am a person of distraction and procrastination. I had lots of time to brainstorm an idea for the final project for BCM240, however, instead thinking of it, I could not keep myself from jumping from one to another task every time I started working. Therefore, I did not start my project until recently and I almost panicked when everyone else was already at the beginning stage. Interestingly, everything is the result of distraction. As I mentioned, I am a person of distraction, it makes me feel tough to concentrate on my work as well as makes me a person who can be easily distracted by any external factor. Therefore, during the semester, I found the topic of attention attractive and painfully relatable to me. Hence, when time was over, I decided to pick distraction as my final project topic.
My first attempt was about attention span only. As I conducted experiment, I found that my idea was too broad because I had so many questions to ask and this could make my report chaotic and aimless. Based on my interview questions, I decided to narrow the size down to make all the questions toward one big question: “Why do people get distracted?” From my point of view, this question is more potential when exploring, and the answers are more likely to be objective.
I have four participants for my experiment. Three of them are from the same Asian background, one of them is Wollongong local, and they are working and studying on different fields. Each was given a research task of four questions, free amount of time to complete the task, free choice of workplace and was required to do research on a media device. My target was not to put any pressure that they were doing so for me, so I could see how they work normally. Fortunately, they all chose to work on a laptop, which made it easier for me to compare. As they completed the task, I came back to note down their working process, including time and tabs they opened, and interview them about their working process during the task and on their daily basis.
As multi-tasking is becoming more and more popular, due to the fact that almost all of my fellows in Communication and Media classes use at least one media device during lecture/ tutorial, I was surprised to find my participants could focus in one task only, which I am incapable of. Due to the majors they are doing, including computer science, logistics and marketing, English and media art, comparing with me, who is learning about the Web 2.0, I guess being less exposed to the Internet could be a reason.
Since I am to make them feel as comfortable and normal as possible, this method reveals a disadvantage: to some extent, it limits us to go insight. One of my participants confessed that although he fully understood my intention, he felt more responsible to complete the task as well as he could. Although the interview was there to balance, it would be better to watch their process on their daily basis. However, this method requires a certain period of time, and is inappropriate in my situation.
There is one point that I love about this project is I can choose my own way to publish the research, so my project can be presented in the best way, or at least, in the way I find most suitable for me. And the platform I find most appropriate is a website. A video might seem attractive, however, audiences need to watch it from the beginning to the end to fully understand. Some may not enjoy this way of they are not patient enough. Therefore, a platform (IN/ON) which they can jump from one to another content and see it how they want like a website could be a good choice. The only problem is my technology-using skill is quite bad so I struggle a bit when I design my site.
Despite the surprising point and lack in result, to some extent, it is a satisfying project as it met my requirement. It shows that social networking sites, exposure to the Internet and multi screening practices are the main problems for people. According to the answers I got, I think there are some possibility to conduct some other projects based on this result, for example, topic that goes deeper into the factors of distraction: “What makes social media so addictive?” After all, time management is still my biggest issue. If only I started earlier, I would have more time experiment my idea in various methods to find the best one. However, being rushed, in a witty way, was a good chance to practice flexibility.
Link to research report site