Last night I watched the movie “the social network” about Mark Zuckerman who created Facebook. Interesting combination of technical genius, conceptual genius, a young man who didn’t make friends easily but understood social interactions, and what youngsters need in their social interactions.
From his easy throwaway answer to an exercise in class only a very few on the planet would understand and a very tiny number could answer, to his interview method of a technical task to trap and analyse network traffic while playing a drinking game his approach was somehow right.
Then I watched those same kids, sitting for hours shut off by their earphones, and coding, testing and debugging. That level of concentration. Did I ever have it? I don’t think I ever had it to that degree, but then we didn’t have the same means to keep out the world’s sounds. We hadn’t trained our brains to ‘tune out’.
The sheer levels of concentration. The 36 hour working space they talked about scared me silly. I have occasionally worked for more than a straight 24 hours, but not for many years now. And I know I was a lot less effective after many hours in a row. I once at 7am on my way home from work drove through a red robot, to the annoyance of oncoming traffic. I had been working since 8am the previous day.
Now after 8 hours of concentrated output, my concentration flags, my brain demands rest, preferably doing nothing active. Watch a movie, read a book, play scrabble online, blog. All such different uses from my work that they count as relaxation.
Getting older isn’t for sissies. I do feel sorry that I can no longer do what I used to be able to do. Are there compensations? I don’t really think so.