[Metacognition] Cognitive attractors and office work
I stumbled across a very informative paper about a cognitive analysis of work/flow disruptions: Cognitive attractors and office work by Saadi LAHLOU. It is unfortunately in french but here is the english abstract:
The Cognitive Overflow Syndrome (“COS”: too many things to do, not enough time, etc) is widespread among managers and other intellectual workers. We have constructed an explanatory model of this syndrome, based on detailed studies of daily work. The agents are described as switching between “cognitive attractors”. A cognitive attractor is a set of material and immaterial elements which potentially contribute to a given activity, and which are simultaneously present from the point of view of the agent. The attractor is interpreted by the subject as a Gestalt. A given configuration, combining elements of the context and of the point of view of the subject, tend to engage the latter in the corresponding activity. The force of the attractor resides in the combination of several factors: the visibility of the task, its cost, its value. The agent is not in complete control of his activity: he is carried along by the flow at the same time as he orients himself. A disordered environment with too many attractors tends to provoke procrastination and flitting from one task to another: the agents exhaust themselves in a sequence of urgent minor tasks, to the detriment of major projects. Our hypothesis is that informatics revolution aggravates the COS because it multiplies the attractors. Several concrete remedies are proposed. Keywords: observation, cognitive attractors, saturation, COS, information, intellectual work, attention, video, Electricité de France, Umwelt, affordance, design.