[I]n the old days of a real desktop, they did not bother extending desks out to 10 feet long in a lame attempt to maximize productivity. Having too many separate sub-areas of the desktop makes it hard to focus on the one at hand. About the only task that truly benefits from two separate areas visible at the same time is manually copying a target document onto a blank one, analogous to dubbing cassettes. Otherwise, the world churned right along and saw greater productivity gains over time with just one central work area on their desks.
As a non-multitasker from way back, I can testify to the ease with which I am distracted.
And this is even less comprehensible:
Something similar is going on with the phenomenon of “twenty tabs open at a time,” as though keeping twenty books open on a real desktop would somehow make you absorb information more efficiently. Or as though playing twenty TV channels simultaneously would make for greater entertainment. In Back to the Future II, that was presented as satire; today it has become the unremarkable reality.
If I have more than five or six tabs open, I get antsy (not to be confused with ANSI). I know people who can do ten or twenty or forty; I’m simply not one of them.