Perspectives on Online Attention

Kevin Kelly and Howard Rheingold discuss managing their attention spans in the online world.


Folksonomies: internet technology society attention online psychology

Attention is the Fundamental Literacy

Attention is the fundamental literacy. Every second I spend online, I make decisions about where to spend my attention. Should I devote any mindshare at all to this comment or that headline? — a question I need to answer each time an attractive link catches my eye. Simply becoming aware of the fact that life online requires this kind of decision-making was my first step in learning to tune a fundamental filter on what I allow into my head — a filter that is under my control only if I practice controlling it. The second level of decision-making is whether I want to open a tab on my browser because I decided that this item will be worth my time tomorrow. The third decision: do I bookmark this site because I am interested in the subject and might want to reference it at some unspecified future time? Online attention-taming begins with what meditators call “mindfulness” — the simple, self-influencing awareness of how attention wanders.

Notes:

Life online requires properly allocating our attention to maximize our productivity.

Folksonomies: literacy society technology internet culture attention

Comparison

Smaller Fragments of Information Command Attention

I do find that smaller and smaller bits of information can command the full attention of my over-educated mind. And not just me; everyone reports succumbing to the lure of fast, tiny, interruptions of information. In response to this incessant barrage of bits, the culture of the Internet has been busy unbundling larger works into minor snippets for sale. Music albums are chopped up and sold as songs; movies become trailers, or even smaller video snips. (I find that many trailers really are better than their movie.) Newspapers become twitter posts. Scientific papers are served up in snippets on Google. I happily swim in this rising ocean of fragments.

While I rush into the Net to hunt for these tidbits, or to surf on its lucid dream, I’ve noticed a different approach to my thinking. My thinking is more active, less contemplative. Rather than begin a question or hunch by ruminating aimlessly in my mind, nourished only by my ignorance, I start doing things. I immediately, instantly go.

Notes:

Kevin Kelly describes how he his attention is grabbed by smaller bits of information and his mind more active as a result.

Folksonomies: information society technology internet culture attention