Do you multi-task? I used to think I do but I have learned a better name for it is "time slicing". I was reading an interesting blog post when this came to me. The blog piece was called The Conductor Guru (click on it, it's worth viewing). The blog itself is interesting, fascinating really, but the piece got me thinking (as most things do) and I started writing this post. Drafting it, actually, because my posts are composed on my computer. A concept or idea is formed and then I try to flesh it out, make it grow.
Many of these ideas, like many of my plants, die. And, like a plant, I have no real idea what it will look like when it is done/grown. But I digress... as usual. My purpose was to frame the idea for you. And the idea is multi-tasking and what it really is: time slicing.
Time slicing is assigning segments of time to a task. Multiple tasks with each task getting a "slice" of the total time. For example, a computer without multiple processors splits up the time between the various applications that it is running. We just call it multi-tasking.
But humans do it at different levels. We read and listen to music and our senses act like autonomous adjunct systems. Part of us but detached, in a sense. We think the mind truly multi-tasks but I have come to believe that it, too, time slices. There is a broad time slicing that is obvious; read some words, paying attention to them, considering them, and the music we hear is there but it recedes into the background. Still there but not requiring attention. We are aware of it but our attention is drawn to the words we are reading.
At some point, the mind shifts back to the music as the priority. Some specific group of notes, a part of a verse, triggers that shift. Once in the forefront of our mind, this triggers emotions and, perhaps, memories that are associated with the music. After a varying span of time, you return your attention to whatever you are reading and those thoughts, those emotions. Times shifting has occurred on a large scale. But it also occurred on a smaller scale all during the major shifts. You are still reading, and you are still listening, seemingly simultaneously.
You are also breathing, dealing with saliva in your mouth, perhaps drinking a beverage, perhaps munching on some food or treat, hearing sounds other than the music (voices of other people in the house or room, birds outside the window, cars going by, the refrigerator cycling, and so on) and all of these things are registering in your mind.
When I was working for the phone company, my job was to maintain a large computerized long distance switching system. It was not one computer, it was a system of many different computers linked together. I was going to add "to perform one overall function" but that's not true, it was to perform the many functions required to connect and maintain a phone call. At the heart of this system was something called the Central Controller (the "CC" as we called it). The "brain" behind the system.
Now, to return to where all this came from... The CC in that system was like the conductor of a symphony. The various pieces of equipment, the autonomous processors which performed a multitude of functions involved in setting up and maintaining a call, were all constantly monitored and directed (when needed) by that CC. The CC is to the switching system as the conductor is to the orchestra.
And all of the thoughts expressed above, all of the ideas, were triggered by the various inputs around me as I wrote (as I write) this piece. The lecture by Itay Talgram (composer and conductor), the snippets of performances and rehearsals of orchestras under other conductors, the music Faye was playing while she tapped away on her computer (conquering the world, playing solitaire, or doing a puzzle online), the taste and smell of the coffee I was drinking, the coolness of the air around me, noting the titles of other posted articles on that website, and much more, all contributed to what I was (am) writing.
All at once, seemingly, but each one thing getting a microscopic bit of my brain's time. And that is how my brain functions constantly.
A Night Unremembered
6 years ago