For years now, I've noticed the PowerPoint effect: the lost capacity to process text that's longer than a slide. People were starting to *think* in PowerPoint style. Reports became slide shows -- and levels of detail and nuanced elements were lost in the shuffle. Some folks were actually losing their ability to process anything more than a slide. Egad! Remember Edward Tufte's epic research, digested in this article: PowerPoint is evil?
Now it's mobile devices. Smart phones are making people stupid. We've got a friend who does all his business from his smart phone. This means he can't really handle attachments, and he doesn't like to do a lot of scrolling. Every once in a while he'll go to his computer and download a report, but then he tries to read it on the go on his phone. He thinks he gets more done, but he's actually less productive. He doesn't spend much time actually READING and COMPREHENDING the information sent his way, which means he's often less informed than he should be. He makes decisions that ultimately need to be amended if not scrapped completely once he realizes the information he was missing or that he reacted too quickly to something. Egad.
That's why I think some technology designed to make us more effective actually doesn't. PowerPoint either distills stuff down to a level that's relatively meaningless or it provides too many disjointed slides to connect the dots effectively. It forces thinking on a surface level. Tufte's research bears this out.
I don't know if there's empirical research on smart phones, but I swear that reading on your mobile device just isn't conducive to good comprehension. I *know* that speed kills -- and reading too fast has been empirically proven to reduce the amount you actually retain. Forget "Think Different", just "Think at All".
So I'm imploring those of you married to PowerPoint and smart phones to step away from these technologies for a while. Slow down. Go back to actually reading on a bigger screen. Revisit comprehension (some tips from Steve are here). Read. Think. Repeat.