Maggie Jackson

• Award-winning journalist & author of 'Distracted: Reclaiming Our Focus in a World of Lost Attention'


Maggie Jackson is an award-winning author and journalist known for her pioneering writings exploring technology’s impact on humanity.

Her acclaimed book Distracted (2008, 2nd Ed. 2018) kickstarted a global conversation on the steep costs of fragmenting our attention and has been featured in media worldwide. The book was a prime inspiration for Google’s global initiative to promote digital well-being and has been compared to Silent Spring for its prescient warnings of technology’s perils. In 2020, Distracted won the prestigious Dorothy D. Lee Book Award for outstanding writing on technology and culture. Past winners include New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and media theorist Peter Lunenfeld. Jackson has contributed to numerous anthologies including Living with Robots: Emerging Issues on the Psychological and Social Implications of Robotics (2020), State of the American Mind: Sixteen Leading Critics on the New Anti-Intellectualism (2015), and The Digital Divide (2011).

Maggie Jackson’s expertise has been featured in Wired, The New York Times, Business Week, Vanity Fair,, O Magazine, and The Times of London; and on All Things Considered, Oprah Radio, The Takeaway, and on the Diane Rehm and Brian Lehrer shows; in hundreds of blogs; and in multiple TV segments and film documentaries worldwide, including Beeban Kidron’s InRealLife (2013). In 2019, she was a contributing consultant to Diane Sawyer’s primetime ABC special “ScreenTime.”

In late 2019, Jackson’s lead opinion piece on the ethics of robot caregiving was featured in the print and online New York Times and flagged on the paper’s digital front page two days running. Her Foreword to Living with Robots was a cover story for the Winter 2020 issue of the award-winning New Philosopher journal. A longtime popular Boston Globe contributing columnist, Jackson has written essays and articles that appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, The Utne Reader, and in other publications around the world. A guest column for The New York Times on Distracted became one of the paper’s top five most-emailed stories for three days. She is a three-time winner of a Forbesmagazine award for the “Top 100 Websites for Women.”

Maggie Jackson is a sought-after keynote speaker, moderator, and panelist nationwide and abroad. In 2018, she was one of the first outside speakers to address Google’s premiere annual developers summit in Mountain View, Ca. She has been a featured speaker at Chautauqua, Harvard Business School, the Conference Board, Merrill Lynch, Bank of America, US Trust, the New York Public Library, New York Society Library (three times, including one of the top five largest audiences in recent years), the annual invitation-only Forbes CMO summit, the annual meetings of the American Association of Museums and the Business Marketing Association, the Simmons College and other top women’s leadership conferences, the Swedish Embassy in Washington DC, and many other corporations, libraries, schools, religious groups, and bookstores in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. In 2013, Distracted was the Liberal Arts first-year “Common Read” at Duquesne University.

A graduate of Yale University and of the London School of Economics with highest honors, Jackson recently served as a Visiting Fellow at the Bard Graduate Center (2016). She has also has been a vice president at the Columbia University-affiliated Center for Talent Innovation; an affiliate of the Institute of the Future in Palo Alto; a Fellow in Child and Family Policy at the University of Maryland; a scholar-in-residence at the Center for Art in Wood museum in Philadelphia, and an adviser to the global advertising firm, gyro. Her awards include a travel grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; a Media Award from the Work-Life Council of the Conference Board; a Media Award from the Massachusetts Psychological Association; and three awards from the Women’s Press Club of New York. Jackson lives with her family in New York and Rhode Island.

Speech topics

Lost in the Instant: Finding Focus and Connection in an Age of Overload and Distraction

Our attention is embattled as never before, hijacked by “smart” software, undermined by relentless info-streams, and diluted by our own split-focus efforts to keep up with it all. How can we reclaim our focus, wake up to what matters, and once again manage our devices and our days? In this talk from the author who sounded the first warnings of our crisis of distraction, we learn the secrets to rekindling our highest human capacity, the key to good problem-solving, creativity, and human bonds. Drawing on exciting discoveries from the new science of attention, Maggie Jackson reveals what is at risk in this era of always-on connectivity and the secrets to turning data into knowledge and distraction into masterful attention. She offers both a wake-up call and a path forward as we reckon with one of the most pressing problems of our time.

Getting Along Again: An Antidote to Intolerance in a Divided Age

In an era of echo-chamber news, social media flame wars, and rising divisions, how can we respect and value even extreme differences with others? Drawing from an astonishing chapter in US history and the latest in cognitive science, Maggie Jackson tells of a legendary friendship between a KKK leader and a civil rights activist that can help reveal the steps we can take to heal our divisions today. In this talk, we learn the ripple effects across communities of tiny acts of tolerance and discover why opening our gated minds makes us more creative, flexible thinkers in all walks of life. Jackson’s words tell a simple story: of seeing possibility where we least expect it in thought, in others, in the world.


Distracted: Reclaiming Our Focus in a World of Lost Attention

In Distracted, journalist Maggie Jackson ponders our increasingly cyber-centric world and fears we're entering a dark age of interruption that will render us unable to think critically, work creatively or cultivate meaningful relationships.

What's Happening to Home: Balancing Work, Life and Refuge in the Information Age

In our modern world, where technology offers the promise of mobility and flexibility, the lines between work and home become increasingly blurred. In What's Happening To Home? Jackson explores the ever-changing role of home in our lives.

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