I know, I know. You thought ruining attention spans was my job. Information technology’s effect on human attention spans is just one of those how-info-tech-is-changing-the-world topics we dip into occasionally. We’ve done porn’s effect on sexuality, cyber security, and Facebook’s influence on friendship. I remember linking to at least one article for some meeting that said the internet is changing the hardwiring of our brains.
The attention span angle is a new one for us but it is a topic of both general and academic interest. I don’t know about you, but everybody I know complains the internet has ruined their ability to focus for any length of time on just one thing. They’ve all but stopped reading books, can’t finish articles they start reading on-line, stop watching videos on-line after 34 minutes, etc. Academic work on the issue got a short burst of media attention (is there any other kind of media attention?) a few years ago after a major study claimed technology has reduced average human attention span to a mere eight seconds – shorter than that of a goldfish. I don’t know if the study was any good or how it defined “attention span,” but I’ve linked to an article about it, below.
So, on Monday we can discuss the readings and anything else people have read or seen on our allegedly disappearing ability to pay attention. Also, this would be an especially good meeting, I think, to share some personal experiences. Most CivCon regulars grew up before the internet existed at all, and the full-on social media age is new to everybody, everywhere. What has happened to your attention span and those of people you know? How do you fight it?
We also could get into related issues. For example, how has the information technology revolution affected our memories, how and how much we learn, the capacity for empathy, and openness to opposing points of view? What about our intimate relationships and social lives?
I’ll see you Monday at 7pm.
SUGGESTED BACKGROUND READING –
- Information technology may be shortening our attention span and the way we think in other ways. Good overview.
- Wrong. It simply has not reduced our attention span. Recommended
- But, most teachers say tech greatly shortens students’ attention spans, although there are many benefits to it.
- Information overload is the real problem: We can’t prioritize. A 2010 article.
NEXT WEEK: Is rural versus urban America’s worst political divide?