Multitasking or distracting?

We've become a society of multitaskers, and it's no secret that some (Gen Y) are more adept at it than others (baby boomers).

So here's a question, and be honest: Can you read a book and listen to music at the same time? Or does one distract from the other?

That's a multitasking issue touched upon by JWT, one of the world's largest specialists in "global brand communication" (read: an advertising/marketing agency), in its recently released trends forecast for 2009.

In JWT-speak, this particular trend – branded "distraction as entertainment" – goes like this: "Understanding that people do more than one thing at a time, content creators are turning what could be a negative (distraction) into a positive (an immersive experience). By layering a multitude of media into entertainment, they are creating content designed for simultaneous engagement."

For our purposes, part of that picture is when authors compile playlists in tandem with their books, says JWT. The idea is for readers to listen to certain pieces of music while they read the authors' books.

I phoned JWT's director of trend-spotting, Ann Mack, to ask how trends are, well, spotted. Essentially, last year JWT spent time "talking with influencers and experts in several sectors," she explained, and connected that input with "the insights we garnered from thousands of consumers, to see how ready they are to take on cultural shifts."

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