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Why Can't I Focus? On Email, Smartphones, and the Age of Distraction


Cal Newport

Our attention has become fragmented. At work, the demands of email and Slack are constant, while at home the many appealing apps on our phones continue their diversionary onslaught. In this talk, Georgetown computer science professor and bestselling author Cal Newport will draw from his three most recent books, Deep Work (2016), Digital Minimalism (2019), and A World Without Email (2021), to examine the critical collisions of technology and society that led us into this current Age of Distraction. He will then leverage this nuanced understanding of how new tools upended our relationship with our own attention to explore the types of solutions that work. Newport will speak at Duke as part of the Crown Lecture in Ethics Series. Endowed by Lester Crown, this prestigious lecture is open to the public and the entire Duke University campus. This lecture series brings speakers to campus to discuss the ethical implications of issues in the arts, sciences, medicine, business and other fields. It was conceived to be the centerpiece of Sanford School's efforts to guide students, faculty, and public opinion the critical importance of ethical decision making in the professions and public life. Crown is an enterprising businessman, active civic leader, and chairman emeritus of Henry Crown and Company. Event partners for this lecture include the Sanford School of Public Policy and Technology Policy Program. For questions about this event, please feel free to email Please join us for a pre-reception beginning at 4:00pm to meet Cal Newport and enjoy food and refreshments!


Ethics, Featured, Free Food and Beverages, Health/Wellness, Lecture/Talk, Reception, Technology