Comments on UndividedAttention


Richard Hamming said in a speech called "You and Your Research" that there was a phenomena among the researchers at Bell Labs (I think) as follows:

Some people would work with their office door closed, and others would leave the door open. The people who closed the door would rarely get interrupted, and so would get more work done that day, but after several years, the people with open office doors would have more important breakthroughs than the closed door workers. The people who closed the door would end up on somewhat peripheral research, instead of the latest frontier.

RadRob - October 22nd, 2001

I noticed the following facts about people who work with the door open or the door closed. I notice that if you have the door to your office closed, you get more work done today and tomorrow, and you are more productive than most. But 10 years later somehow you don't know quite know what problems are worth working on; all the hard work you do is sort of tangential in importance. He who works with the door open gets all kinds of interruptions, but he also occasionally gets clues as to what the world is and what might be important. Now I cannot prove the cause and effect sequence because you might say, ``The closed door is symbolic of a closed mind. I don't know. But I can say there is a pretty good correlation between those who work with the doors open and those who ultimately do important things, although people who work with doors closed often work harder. Somehow-they seem to work on slightly the wrong thing - not much, but enough that they miss fame.

-- z 2019-03-22 18:05 UTC