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Do we romanticise pre-digital life?

I thought this was a lovely point by Zoe Williams about the tendency to romanticise pre-digital life, imagining infinite reserves of attention existing in the absence of contemporary digital technologies: Item three: some people – on this occasion, definitely not my kids – seem to think that we were all […]

The widespread sense of homo distractus

The popular character of this diagnosis, summarised by Tim Wu on pg 6 of his Attention Merchants, poses the question of how we should treat it as common sense, in the Durkheimian tradition of skepticism about received wisdom. How widespread is this? To what extent does it misrepresent the nature […]

The spiritual death of the digital age

From The Twittering Machine by Richard Seymour loc 3166: No one consciously sets out to devote themselves to the machine, to become its addict. Its veto power over all other possible attentions takes place, cumulatively, through every apparently free choice made as a user. We drop into the dead zone, […]

The attention sinks which stop us dreaming

From Richard Seymour’s The Twittering Machine loc 1148: The vacancies of attention that we must fill appear during public transport journeys, on lunch and toilet breaks, during impasses in dinner conversation, or in those frequent interludes in working life where there is nothing to do but the employee is obliged […]

A cybernetics of 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 […]

a DDoS attack on the human will  

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 […]

The consolation of kitsch

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 […]

Time-packing and space-packing

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 […]

The necessity of selection

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; […]

Work Life Balance + Digital Conference

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 […]

The Blizzard of Photography

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 […]