I was lazily reading the Italian version of Scientific American, and I got on a very interesting article [ per noi italiani, il link è questo]: the point of the author was that computer and devices often interrupt us with events demanding our attention, regardless of the fact that we may be busy with something more urgent. I can agree: when the time of a meeting gets close, I typically have to dismiss the same reminder on the smartphone, the pocketpc and the pc itself... friends make fun of me and say that I love to be surrounded by my tamagotchi:-).
It is with big satisfaction that I learned that our researchers are getting very good results in this area: in fact, a good part of the article describes a system developed by the group of Eric Horvitz aimed to adjust interruptions to the context and the attention level of the recipient. The topic is very interesting, and it will grow in importance as the presence protocols and technologies based on Roberto's beloved social networks [ hey Roberdan, com'è? L'hai letto? ;-)] become more pervasive.
Best quote from the article? Roel Vertegaal, another pioneer of the field, says “It’s ridiculous that my own computer can’t figure out whether I’m in front of it, but a public toilet can”. Too true 😀
PS: In his pages, Eric Horovitz proposes a very interesting survey: he proposes some hypotesis about potential explanations for the arise of consciousness, and asks to distribute 100 points among them in order to assess the likehood of each in respect to personal belief. Those data concur to slice the space of configurations in Bayesian regions, and detect common patterns. Worth the effort, I'd say. Exhausting explanation here.