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The Battle for Attention

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article explores the concept of attention and how it is being measured, quantified, and commodified in the modern digital age. It delves into the history of attention research, the rise of the "attention economy", and the efforts of a secret society called the "Order of the Third Bird" to reclaim attention as a form of artistic and political resistance.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] The Attention Crisis

1. What are some of the key indicators of the perceived attention crisis?

  • Decline in reading, math, and science performance among 15-year-olds globally, with a third citing digital distraction as an issue
  • Increase in clinical presentations of attention problems, including a tripling of ADHD diagnoses between 2010 and 2022
  • College students struggling to get through books, according to their teachers
  • Acceleration in film pacing and decline in the mean length of top-performing pop songs
  • Decrease in the average time people can pay attention to a single screen, from 2.5 minutes to 47 seconds

2. How do the article's sources view the causes of the attention crisis?

  • Some argue that the attention crisis is driven by technological acceleration and the "buzzing, blinking pageant on our screens and in our pockets"
  • Others suggest that the attention crisis is more a reflection of changing priorities and ideologies in the modern age, with a focus on efficiency, objective measurement, and other goals that have shaped technological development

3. What are some of the efforts to address the attention crisis?

  • Schools are being encouraged to teach students how to pay attention, rather than just expecting them to do so
  • The Strother School of Radical Attention is offering workshops and courses to help people reclaim and cultivate their attention

[02] The Attention Economy

1. How are advertisers and companies trying to measure and quantify attention?

  • Advertisers are using digital technology to gather data on how people attend to their ads, including eye-tracking and facial coding
  • Dentsu, a leading advertising agency, has developed a metric called "effective attention cost per a thousand" impressions to measure the value of attention

2. What are some of the criticisms of the attention economy approach?

  • Concerns that the focus on measuring and quantifying attention as an economic commodity may be undermining the more holistic, experiential nature of attention
  • Suggestions that the attention economy may be creating a "mirage of shortening attention" by incentivizing the production of content that is designed to be quickly consumed, rather than deeply engaged with

[03] The Order of the Third Bird

1. What is the Order of the Third Bird, and what are their practices?

  • The Order of the Third Bird is a secret international fellowship of artists, authors, booksellers, professors, and avant-gardists
  • Their practices involve gathering in groups to silently and intensely attend to works of art, going through a structured protocol of "Encounter", "Attending", "Negation", and "Realizing"
  • The goal is to reclaim attention as a medium for artistic and political expression, and to resist the commodification of attention

2. How do the Birds view the role of attention in art and experience?

  • They see attention as a way of "making something" with one's consciousness, rather than just passively consuming art
  • They believe that attention can bestow value on the objects and experiences it is directed towards, and that the collective practice of attention can create a sense of shared meaning and community

3. What are some of the criticisms and challenges faced by the Order of the Third Bird?

  • Some members feel that the group's increasing public openness and the "performance aspect" of their actions have strayed from the original spirit of the practice
  • The group's activities have faced resistance and challenges from security guards and authorities, who see their actions as a form of unauthorized performance or protest

[04] The Broader Implications

1. How do the article's sources view the relationship between attention, technology, and modern life?

  • Some see the attention crisis as a symptom of a broader shift in priorities and ideologies, driven by the rise of efficiency, objective measurement, and other goals that have shaped technological development
  • Others argue that the attention crisis is not solely a result of technological acceleration, but rather a reflection of how human beings have chosen to shape and use technology

2. What are the potential political and social implications of the attention crisis and the efforts to reclaim attention?

  • The Strother School of Radical Attention and the Order of the Third Bird see their practices as a form of resistance against the commodification of attention and the "eradication of subjectivity" in modern life
  • Their efforts to cultivate collective attention and shared experiences are viewed as a way to counter the individualism and fragmentation of modern society
Shared by Daniel Chen ยท
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