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It would be like looking at the world through a very small key-hole.

Oh, yes. Heck, yes. I've found that to be a big reason why I love my iPad.

Remember all that psychological research on multitasking? The research that concludes that even the people who claim to enjoy multitasking and have "lots of practice" at it are less productive and more stressed when trying to do more than one thing at a time?

Have you ever seen Cory Doctorow's theory of ebooks? The one that holds that long-form prose on computer screens hasn't worked, not because we're holding out for better screen quality -- many of us white-collar workers spend eight or more hours a day reading from our existing screens, after all -- but because our computers, and our habits when working with them, are so centered around distraction that we can't make ourselves concentrate when sitting in front of a computer? You start to read the novel from the browser window, but then your email beeps. Or, god help you, your mind starts to wander, your hands hit a key-combo, and you check your email as a sort of spinal reflex. And then you notice the RSS feed icon blinking, and then Twitter updates, and then a Skype call comes in, and before you know it you're reading Wikipedia about some band from the eighties while simultaneously watching a YouTube video of some kittens. Or (ahem) posting to Hacker News.

The iPad is relentlessly focused on one app at any given time. This is obviously a problem for some tasks -- yes, you can't really program on the iPad at the moment, or even blog very effectively; that's why iPad owners also have computers -- but for many other uses it is downright refreshing, even Zen. You do one thing. Then you do something else.

> Or (ahem) posting to Hacker News.

Guilty as charged. You have me almost convinced that I should cut down my screen real estate to something a bit more modest and a maximum of one open window at a time.

Maybe I should try that for a week and see how it works and do a write-up.

Since you are cutting down, could I get that extra screen real estate?

When I am programming I have one terminal window open for subversion, the IDE I am programming in, and the web browser for documentation.

When all three are on different screens life is awesome, if I have to move my mouse to switch between windows it becomes a burden and annoying. Having even one extra screen is an absolute must as a programmer. I don't think I could live with just a single screen.

Now on a day to day browsing machine, sure, one screen, like the iPad is perfect. Hell, I tend to sit on the couch with my iPhone browsing the web while watching TV.

Anecdotally, I seem to enjoy using my 12" XGA laptop for recreation more than my 15" UXGA laptop. The latter seems like too much computer.

(Mind you, I'm still glad it's an all-purpose x86 machine.)

Don't feel too guilty. Many of us have the same problem!

This seems kind of silly. You're not forced to multi-task, why not change your habit and use only one application at a time? Try http://www.nowdothis.com - maybe it'll help change your "bad" habit? I'm sure there's an application out there that forces any window on-top and probably blocks out other application sounds.

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