Friday, October 21, 2011

In The Zone

Obsessing about ancient travel vs. jet age travel possibly started on a trip to Greece we took. The thought that being at the destination matters, but also how one gets there. Travel logistics were surely a big deal in the past. In addition the journey duration say between Athens and Jerusalem, gave the mind plenty of time to get ready for the destination. And plenty of time to disconnect.

Now the speed of travel surpasses the speed of thought. My flight was so short that the body arrived in Athens with the mind still in Tel Aviv. Faster minds would help deal with faster travel and faster lifestyles. If the speed of thought could somehow accelerate.

For an intuition about faster minds think vending machines.  Gravity has not changed, yet it feels like the time between pressing a key and an item falling out has only slowed down with time.  One explanation is thought has accelerated. At least impatience type thought.

Useful thought is not just a short fuse. If we can disconnect, analyze and reach conclusions faster that would be useful. Faster motor skills control is useful for sports, where I claim the state of being "in the zone" is nothing else than our mind accelerating so the actual physical world appears to move slower, and we beat adversaries who seem to plan and react in slow motion.

Psychological theories seem to call this "Flow", and it is indeed described as capable of distorting the internal sense of time.  This research says we can only attend to a disappointingly low amount of information, about 126 bits per second. We may be better than computers for some stuff but we are slower than really old modems. 

Putting this all together we sketch one future where we match the real world pace with an ability to get deliberately and often in the zone. I read there is no prescriptive method for getting in the zone, or even worse, the approaches of spiritual meditation, workspace arrangements, video games, and web surfing, seems at loggerheads with each other.

It seems easier to get to the future than to get in the zone, and judging by the time it took me to write this post, the zone can be as far away from me as Athens, by foot.

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