Tag: distraction

There’s an interesting aside in Andrew Pickering’s The Cybernetic Brain on pg 98 which has left me thinking about why I’m so interested in distraction: Here he tied his essay into a venerable tradition in psychiatry going back at least to the early twentieth century, namely, that madness and mental illness pointed to a failure to […]

This is the provocative phrase which James Williams uses to describe the attention economy on pg 87 of Stand Out of Our Light: Uncritical deployment of the human-as-computer metaphor is today the well of a vast swamp of irrelevant prognostications about the human future. If people were computers, however, the appropriate description of the digital […]

I’ve never completely understood my attraction to kitsch. As much as part of me would like to suggest otherwise, it’s not a knowing embrace of excessive sentimentality and contrived garishness, as much as these things genuinely appealing to me in a way that can prompt knowingness when I reflect upon it. For instance, I saw these […]

From The Mediated Construction of Reality, by Nick Couldry and Andreas Hepp, loc 2896-2912: While there are only so many bodies of a certain size that can fit into a finite space –there are certain natural limits to spatial packing, beyond which the attempt to pack just has to stop (otherwise, bodies get crushed) –the […]

Soon after becoming Finance Minister of Greece, Yanis Varoufakis found himself surrounded by civil servants whose loyalties he could not assume and staff parachuted in by a political party with which he had little prior affiliation. In his political memoir, Adults In The Room, he recounts his impulse to find “a minder whose loyalties would not be […]

What’s the moral status of ‘thoughtlessness’? It can be invoked as a defence, used to claim that an action was less morally problematic because it expressed a lack of consideration rather than a deliberate intention. But as the wise Jim Gordon once pointed out, such actions can actually be worse in a way, reflecting a wilful […]

This is a really nice account in Damon Young’s Distraction of what Margaret Archer calls the necessity of selection. From pg 2: Psychological blockages are part of a much larger set of limitations: those of mortal life itself. There are only so many professions, sexual partners, houses, entertainments and amusements available; and we only have so […]

A really interesting conference I wish I could make it to: Work Life Balance + Digital Conference We’ve got a few £20/£12 places left for our “BEYOND BALANCE: How digital technologies are affecting our work, our homes, and everything in between” conference in London on Mon 27 June that we wanted to highlight to sociologists […]

I just came across this brief reference in Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success which makes me think it’s important to read Sontag to develop my case about digital distraction. From pg 63: Susan Sontag would observe in On Photography that inexpensive photos, produced by the hundreds, created a record that allowed an […]

An extract from Social Media for Academics In recent years we’ve seen the notion of ‘internet addiction’ enter the popular consciousness. As a self-description it’s sometimes invoked facetiously, some­times desperately and occasionally in a way which combines the two. It would be silly for me to try and take a stance on such a complex […]

I came across this wonderful passage by William James, quoted by Robert Frodeman in Sustainable Knowledge and reproduced on Brainpickings here: Every one is familiar with the phenomenon of feeling more or less alive on different days. Every one knows on any given day that there are energies slumbering in him which the incitements of […]

I love this essay (HT Su Oman) – I recently presented a paper The Challenge of Flourishing Amidst Variety and it was a very different approach to precisely the same questions. Read it in full here. LIVING with a sense of overwhelming choice means exerting an insane amount of emotional energy in making the most banal decisions. What should […]

I was slightly disappointed by Enjoying It: Candy Crush and Capitalism but I’ve come away from it with one core concept stuck in my mind. The author distinguishes between what he calls ‘productive’ and ‘unproductive’ enjoyment: the former is that which ‘serves’ social and cultural structures, while the latter is pointless activity which serves no purpose. […]

I’ve written in the past about the pleasures of acceleration, how speeding up can prove satisfying because of the opportunities it can present for evading difficult issues that an actor might otherwise find themselves forced to confront. There’s a really interesting section in Addiction By Design pg 54 which speaks to this idea: Speed is […]

An email sent to the entirety of SpaceX by Elon Musk, as quoted in Ashlee Vance’s book about him, pg 238-239: There is a creeping tendency to use made up acronyms at SpaceX. Excessive use of made up acronyms is a significant impediment to communication and keeping communication good as we grow is incredibly important. […]