Technology’s Mindfulness Racket [...]

In essence, we are being urged to unplug—for an hour, a day, a week—so that we can resume our usual activities with even more vigor upon returning to the land of distraction. Here the quest for mindfulness plays the same role as Buddhism. In our maddeningly complex world, where everything is in flux and defies comprehension, the only reasonable attitude is to renounce any efforts at control and adopt a Zen-like attitude of non-domination. Accept the world as it is—and simply try to find a few moments of peace in it. The reactionary tendency of such an outlook is easy to grasp. As the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek once quipped, “If Max Weber were alive today, he would definitely write a second, supplementary, volume to his Protestant Ethic, entitled The Taoist Ethic and the Spirit of Global Capitalism.” And what a wonderful Kindle Single that would make!


Online Attention as Inferior Good [...]

From The Empirical Economics of Online Attention (2016):

We find that higher income households spend less total time online per week. Households making $25,000-$35,000 a year spend ninety-two more minutes a week online than households making$100,000 or more a year in income, and differences vary monotonically over intermediate income levels. Relatedly, we also find that the amount of time on the home device only slightly changes with increases in the number of available web sites and other devices – it slightly declines between 2008 and 2013 – despite large increases in online activity via smartphones and tablets over this time. Finally, the monotonic negative relationship between income and total time suggests online attention is an inferior good, and we find that this relationship remains stable, exhibiting a similar slope of sensitivity to income. We call this property persistent attention inferiority. There is a generally similar decline in total time across all income groups, which is consistent with a simple hypothesis that the allocation of time online at a personal computer declines in response to the introduction of new devices. (Source)

Poverty of Attention [...]

“…[I]n an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. 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.” (Simon, 1971).