Artist: Ché Finch
Medium: Stoneware, glazes, oxides and stains
Dimensions: 27.5 x 20 cm
Purchase: £375 unframed
© Ché Finch
Deep Work is a response to Cal Newport's book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World .
Which I read alongside Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows; which examines the neuroplastic brain and explores how our brain will shape according to what we expose it to; the internet has altered the way our minds work. “What looks like feast”, Carr argues, “may be closer to famine”.
The web drives us to click and flick (lowering concentration ability unless we counter balance that experience with deeper concentration from other sources), and before we know it all our brains want to do is “click and flick”. On average people spend 15 seconds on a website, “the linear, literary mind” becomes “yesterday’s mind”, Carr argues.
"I grew up largely without exposure to television and didn’t watch it regularly until I was 29 years of age and have known for a long time that television has a detrimental effect on me; I zone out (sometimes for hours), my posture is affected (I will slump in my seat) and it reduces my ability to concentrate.
However, this knowledge did not prepare me for the insidiousness of extensive exposure to internet use. I found my concentration levels severely affected over time, and felt that the 24/7 online culture, emails and smart phones were degrading my quality of life profoundly and that this was an intrinsically shared experience. My brain felt fractured a lot of the time and my sleep affected. I would also find myself remembering life pre internet... disquieting moments were looking outside my bedroom window on weekends looking at a quiet road, knowing that decades before the street would have had several kids laughing, screaming, plotting, go karting and growing in the sun and air.
I recall going on holiday several years ago. At the time I'd not been abroad for quite a few years and when I entered the hotel bar, time seemed to slow, something was profoundly wrong. As I walked towards the bar I took in the scene; approximately 35 tables all had couples sitting opposite each other deeply engrossed in browsing their smart phones... not talking to each other. Some were trying to engage with the other, who was too engrossed to be aware they were being spoken to, the place was quiet a (holiday bar!); it was surreal.
I decided to disconnect from the news, to answer emails once a week and stopped watching television entirely. Over time I felt far less stressed and became more socially connected (despite my self-imposed news and television blackout). My own experience of emails is that they do not equal productivity (there is vast amount of evidence to support this) and that in today’s zero-hour, self-employed gig economy contracts; time spent replying to work related emails usually means hours online each week answering emails in an unpaid capacity, with increasing expectation and pressure to engage in those emails without pay. It is appalling. Our life quality will very simply be eroded by thousands of emails and messages; it's pernicious. I regret the amount of virtual communication I've engaged in; I will never get that time back. It doesn't make me happy.
Deep Work is a response to that era of research and an acknowledgement that the brain will ultimately shape itself to what it is exposed to. If we only expose it to 15 second soundbites and scanning a webpage in a few seconds... our concentration levels will deteriorate.
Further information on neuroplasticity can be found here;
https://www.britannica.com/science/neuroplasticity and The Online Brain – How the Internet May be Changing Our Cognition is an interesting read;
… ironically both online! I’m not saying it’s all bad, simply that it's worth rethinking habitual daily use".