Front cover image for Distracted : the erosion of attention and the coming Dark Age

Distracted : the erosion of attention and the coming Dark Age

We have vast oceans of information at our disposal, yet increasingly we seek knowledge with brief glimpses at the Yahoo headlines while juggling other tasks. We are networked as never before, but we tend to communicate even with our most intimate friends and family via instant messaging, email, and fleeting face-to-face moments that are rescheduled a dozen times, then punctuated when they do occur with pings and beeps and more multitasking. Welcome to the land of distraction. Despite our wondrous technologies and scientific advances, we are nurturing a culture of diffusion, fragmentation, and detachment. In this new world, something is amiss. And that something is - attention. Journey with Maggie Jackson as she explores the many ways in which we are eroding our capacity for deep, sustained attention-the building block of intimacy, wisdom, and cultural progress. In her sweeping quest to unravel the nature of attention and detail its erosion, she introduces us to scientists, cartographers, marketers, educators, wired teens, virtual lovers from the telegraph age, and roboticists building smart machines to comfort and care for us. She takes us from the nineteenth-century roots of our mobile, virtual multitasking ways into a darkening future of snippets, glimpses, skimming, McThinking, and mistrust. Taking us beyond "Blink and Faster", Jackson makes it clear that if we continue down this road of scattered attention spans and widespread societal ADD, we will be in danger of squandering and devaluing the essence of humanity, and our technological age could ultimately slip into cultural decline. But we are just as capable of igniting a renaissance of attention by strengthening our varied powers of focus and perception, the keys to judgement, memory, morality, and happiness. She describes some of the exciting new scientific research that shows how these skills can be nurtured. "Distraction" is unique in being simultaneously an original exposé of the multifaceted nature of attention, an engaging and often surprising portrait of post-modern life, and a compelling roadmap for cultivating sustained focus and nurturing a more enriched and literate society. Pull over, hit the pause button, silence the ringer, and prepare to encounter our land of distraction-this may be your first, and maybe your last, chance to really fathom it.--From publisher information
Print Book, English, 2008
Prometheus Books, Amherst, N.Y., 2008
327 pages ; 24 cm
9781591026235, 1591026237
Pt. 1: Lengthening shadows: exploring our landscape of distraction
Wired love ca. 1880: tracing the roots of an attention-deficient culture
Focus: e-mailing the dead and other forays into virtual living
Judgment: of Molly's gaze and Taylor's watch: why more is less in a split-screen world
Awareness: portable clocks and little black boxes : the sticking point of mobility
Pt. 2: Deepening twilight : pursuing the narrowing path
Focus: invisible tethers: the delicate art of surveillance-based love
Judgment: book and word on the "edge of chaos"
Awareness: the post-human age : a battle for our attention
Pt. 3: Dark times ... or renaissance of attention? McThinking and the future of the past
The gift of attention: a renaissance at hand