Attention management

I ‘ve encountered a number of postings on the subject of Attention Management, from both sides of the story line. On the one side too much investment in blogs, newsfeeds and social software communities eats up time for embodied relating with family and friends but also according to Linda Stone who has coined the term : Continuous Partial Attention CPA, perpetually maintains a hyper arousal where your attention is sollicited. At the SuperNova 2005 conference she said:

In 1997 I coined the phrase “continuous partial attention”. For almost two decades, continuous partial attention has been a way of life to cope and keep up with responsibilities and relationships. We’ve stretched our attention bandwidth to upper limits. We think that if tech has a lot of bandwidth then we do, too.

With continuous partial attention we keep the top level item in focus and scan the periphery in case something more important emerges. Continuous partial attention is motivated by a desire not to miss opportunities. We want to ensure our place as a live node on the network, we feel alive when we’re connected. To be busy and to be connected is to be alive.

We’ve been working to maximize opportunities and contacts in our life. So much social networking, so little time. Speed, agility, and connectivity at top of mind. Marketers humming that tune for two decades now.

Now we’re over-stimulated, over-wound, unfulfilled. [snipped from Corante July 1st 2005 entry]

Linda Stone, says what many bloggers are experiencing today, stimulation overload and as a consequence are trimming their information investments, pulling their names from ‘online friends’ environments, and simply turning the tech off.

You can read some of their recent comments :

From Om Malik’s blog: The economics and attention crisis
From Fred Wilson The looming attention crisis
From Jeff Nolan The looming attention crisis
From Jamie Pitt The attention economy
From Business Week Pay attention
From HackingCough The attention deficit pulls the mainstream nearer

From the other side of the story line, there is business, scrutinizing and tweaking code to monitor our every clicks in order to–we are told, make our online experience taylor made to our needs. They are in the business of Attention marketing.

Fine and dandy, I do want to make my online experience simpler, be connected to what I’m really searching for (Google) and I’ll even accept to be tempted by a little surprise once in a while (Amazon for example). But I am beginning to deeply worry as to how much monitoring under the coded surface is really happening and what is being done with these ‘browsing logs’, which goes beyond spyware problems.

A new nonprofit venture has started up called

Attention trust seems to have recognized the value of our clicks. They are in the business of making our clicking ours. To share with who we want and collect our own clicking data. It proposes a basic set of user rights to their attention data.

On their blog you can read the entry Attention and Identity, where Phil Windley poses some important questions:

Do user’s “own” their attention data to the extent that they have the right to compel another entity to hand it over? For example, when I visit Amazon, they track my clickstream. I can track it as well (by hand, with a browser plugin, etc.) Should Amazon be compelled to hand over my clickstream data to me? This was an issue of hot debate in the discussion.

Attention Trust answers:

I do believe that users own their attention data–that’s one of AttentionTrust’s fundamental principles. But I recognize that the devil’s in the details. How do we exert this right of ownership? Do companies and other entities also own a copy? What obligations do entities have to share our data with us?

I’m starting to think I should use a bit of bleach to clean my traces. The content/code ownership plot keeps thickening.

2 thoughts on “Attention management

  1. Thanks Francine, needed alittle bit of support. Kinda felt like I was falling short in the class because I cannot keep up with some of the other students. I don’t live with my laptop, I don’t even have a laptop. I don’t have the world accessible at the fingertips all the time and sometimes I feel a little out of the loop. I remember you mentioning that the first or second class.

    Cheers mate

  2. Pingback: Knowledging across life’s curriculum | Tracing Identity