Are You Paying Attention?

Advertising Age: “A recent study found that consumers in their 20s (“digital natives”) switch media venues about 27 times per nonworking hour…  “digital immigrants” (consumers who grew up with old-school technologies, such as TV, radio and print, and adapted to newer ones)… switched media venues just 17 times per nonworking hour. Put another way, natives switch about 35% more than immigrants.”

“What information consumes is rather obvious: It consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.”—Herbert Simon

“One of the great ironies of information economics is that while information can be trivially copied and the information bandwidth continues to widen, the individual’s attention bandwidth is as narrow as ever. In information economics, post-scarcity reaches its reduction ad absurdum”—R. U. Sirius and St. Jude, Wired, February 1994.

“What we are losing in this country and presumably around the world is the sustained, focused, linear attention developed by reading. I would believe people who tell me that the Internet develops reading if I did not see such a universal decline in reading ability and reading comprehension on virtually all tests.”—Dana Gioia, Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts, The New York Times, July 27, 2008.

“When the Net absorbs a medium, that medium is re-created in the Net’s image. It injects the medium’s content with hyperlinks, blinking ads, and other digital gewgaws, and it surrounds the content with the content of all the other media it has absorbed. A new e-mail message, for instance, may announce its arrival as we’re glancing over the latest headlines at a newspaper’s site. The result is to scatter our attention and diffuse our concentration.”—Nick Carr, The Atlantic Monthly, July/August 2008.

“Our neurons will continue to crave and be gratified by the stimulation they receive online. Once a new medium has been invented, we never go back to previous eras of literary languor … The only possible way to take action, which [Nick] Carr doesn’t even suggest, would be for individual readers to voluntarily change their own habits. Not much of this will happen either … while Nick decries the fact that new e-mails appear on his screen while he’s consuming more substantial information fare, I’ll bet he hasn’t disabled that function … I know I haven’t.”—Tom Davenport, Harvard Business School Publishing, June 10, 2008.

About GilPress

I launched the Big Data conversation; writing, research, marketing services; &
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