Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age
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In this gripping exposé of our cyber-centric, attention-deficient life, journalist Maggie Jackson argues that we are eroding our capacity for deep attention — the building block of intimacy, wisdom, and cultural progress. The implications for a healthy society are stark.
Despite our wondrous technologies and scientific advances, we are nurturing a culture of diffusion and detachment. With our attention scattered among the beeps and pings of a push-button world, we are less and less able to pause, reflect, and deeply connect.
In her sweeping quest to unravel the nature of attention and detail its losses, Jackson introduces us to scientists, cartographers, marketers, educators, wired teens, and even roboticists. She offers us a compelling wake-up call, an adventure story, and reasons for hope.
As the author shows, neuroscience is just now decoding the workings of attention, with its three pillars of focus, awareness, and judgment, and revealing how these skills can be shaped and taught. This is exciting news for all of us living in an age of overload.
Pull over, hit the pause button, and prepare for an eye-opening journey. More than ever, we cannot afford to let distraction become the marker of our time.
closely associated with docility and a loss of control to be accepted by a public and scientific establishment struggling with the mutability of modern life. By the turn of the century, hypnotism increasingly was shunned by influential advocates such as Freud, writes Crary in Suspensions of Perception: Attention, Spectacle and Modern Culture. "There was an astonishing cultural reversal from the great heyday of hypnosis in the late 1880s," he writes, "when across Europe and North America it seemed
keepsake box.38 This was thinking as data processing, notes Stephen Arata, with efficiency "driving the whole enterprise, [and] attention its fossil fuel."39 But dissecting and distilling the components of work in order to turn a factory into a "well-designed, smoothly running machine" had a chilling outcome.40 Taylor effectively treated man as an interchangeable part of the industrial machine. This was his "blind spot," concludes Drucker, and the source of labor's hostility to him. Even today,
in the messy middle ground where book meets screen, with the "networked book." One such work-in-progress manuscript, a book on video game theory by McKenzie Wark, was posted online for reader comment before its eventual publication both online and by a university press.78 A wiki-book? No, the experiment by the Institute for the Future of the Book and Wark, a professor of media studies at the New School University in New York, tuned up the interactivity of creation a notch, yet Wark retained
not-is enough. After all, we often offer each other little more than tantalizingly effective empty prompts and cues, like virtual dolls programmed to ask about another's day. The empathetic murmur from a spouse thinking about his work, the seeming warmth of the saleswoman, and the insincere compliment offered on cue, all deliver comfort to us, without authentic mutual understanding. We present to the world a tapestry of externalities that may or may not match our inner emotions, and we bumble
rose, mint, midnight blue, and tangerine blending into one another, seemingly impossible to confine. The poem is sparsely punctuated, and nearly every word sports a different hue or font size. A reader is pushed and pulled from ancient to modern times and places, and back again. While Cendrars revels in the dizzying changes of the day, Wired Love's author Ella Cheever Thayer depicts the awkwardness and uncertainties that complicated the seductive new relations of this age. Thayer, a hotel