Summary of Pardon the Interruptions

Pardon the Interruptions summary

Editorial Rating



  • Eye Opening
  • Concrete Examples
  • Engaging


Former Google design ethicist Tristan Harris has become a household name among those who worry about the addictive and stress-inducing impact of modern technology. He coined the term “human downgrading” to describe how tech companies are exploiting and amplifying people’s most primitive instincts and has become famous for comparing digital phones to “slot machines.” In this episode of the podcast Your Undivided Attention, Harris talks with Gloria Mark, a pioneer in the emerging field of interruption science. Anyone wondering why they can’t stop checking emails and switching tasks will benefit from the discussion’s insights.

About the Podcast

Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin co-founded the Center for Humane Technology nonprofit to reverse the “digital attention crisis.” Its Your Undivided Attention podcast exposes the design features that capitalize on seizing people’s attention, nudge people toward unhealthy choices and destabilize real-world communities. Here, they interview Gloria Mark – a pioneer in the emerging field of interruption science.


People’s average attention span is getting shorter and shorter.

Back in 2004, when multitasking was in vogue, informatics professor Gloria Mark wanted to find out how often people were switching among tasks in the course of a workday. She found that her study subjects changed tasks every three minutes on average. By 2016, the amount of time her study subjects were keeping their attention on a single task or computer program had shrunk to 40 seconds.

Statistics on television viewing show a similar trend: While the average shot length within a TV show was 13 seconds in the 1950s, the number decreased to about 3.5 seconds by 2010.

Distraction becomes a habit: If external interferences don...

Comment on this summary

More on this topic

By the same authors

How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds – from a Magician and Google’s Design Ethicist
Chatbots for Behaviour Change in L&D
Online Education Platforms
The New Future of Work: A Conversation with Matt Mullenweg
Read, Listen or Watch? How We’ll Access Knowledge in the Future
Think Like a Rocket Scientist
Think Again with Adam Grant

Related Channels