Monday, July 20, 2009


When are we going to learn?
Texting (and phoning, and blogging) take attention and focus. You cannot multitask. Just because you are a "digital native" and you feel like texting doesn't mean you have the slightest clue about your own capabilities.

All of you educlowns who want to have cellphones and texting and blogging and computers and "engaged students" in the classroom? If they are engaged in the technology, they are not engaged in learning or listening to you or their classmates or anything. You hear them "I am a digital native. I can multi-task."

Um, no.

"His life has been shattered."
Quinn has been fired from his MBTA job.
Sent a text message, missed a red light, slammed into a stopped trolley.
Caused $9 million in property damage.
Quinn was among 60-plus people injured.

His defense? "The law was meant for choo-choo trains." How pathetic and childish is that?

When are we going to learn?

Complete article:

Boston Herald
Accused texting T driver rails against charge
By Laura Crimaldi
Monday, July 20, 2009

The accused texting T driver railed against prosecutors today for slapping him with a charge that was used more than a century ago to prosecute “choo-choo train” engineers.

Aiden Quinn, 24, pleaded not guilty today in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston to a single charge of gross negligence while in control of a train. He was set free on personal recognizance.

His lawyer, James Sultan, said the charge should have remained in the history books and not back in a modern-day court.

“I think they picked the wrong statute,” said Sultan today on the steps of the court as he draped his arm around Quinn. “His life has been shattered.”

Quinn is due back in court July 27 when a permanent defense attorney will be assigned the case. Quinn, who has been fired from his MBTA job, claims he is flat broke and can’t afford a lawyer.

Quinn faces up to three years in prison for allegedly sending his girlfriend a text message when he missed a red light and slammed into a stopped trolley in the subway tunnel near Government Center on May 8, causing $9 million in property damage.

The crash prompted the T to order all employees to stop carrying cell phones while on duty.

Quinn, dressed in a dark suit, let his lawyer do all the talking today.

Sultan said the charge against Quinn has not been used for 135 years – when it was put to use primarily in the enforcement of “choo-choo trains.”

Quinn, who broke his wrist in the crash, was among 60-plus people injured.

The T and the National Transportation Safety Board blamed the accident on human error.


  1. And actually, computers do not really multitask: They just shift back and forth between (or through) the problems at a rate too fast for us to detect, so it appears as if they are doing several tasks at the same time.

    Another aspect to factor in here is that even computers who appear to multitask take longer to complete two tasks "at once" than one task alone. This has implications for the so-called "digital native" as well.

  2. Yup. One of my statistics classes built a study of speed when performing three tasks. The "multitasker" wasn't even close to the speed of the person who did three in a row.

    It's because "working memory" needs to be filled every time you switch focus. Better to finish one task and switch to the next, using only two transitions than to switch often and increase the number of transitions.

    The time differential dropped off, though, with longer segments of time.