Information overload, the shallows, weapons of mass distraction, the googlization of minds: countless commentators condemn the flood of images and information, from television to video games and the internet, that dooms us to a pathological attention deficit.
In this new book, cultural theorist Yves Citton cuts through the tide of these standard laments to offer a new perspective on the problem of attention in the digital age. Phrases like 'paying attention' or ‘investing one’s attention’ attest to our mistaken belief that attention can be conceptualized in narrow economic terms. We are constantly drawn towards attempts to quantify and commodify attention, even down to counting the number of likes a picture receives on Facebook or a video on YouTube. By contrast, Citton argues that we should conceptualise attention as a kind of ecology. We must see that the many different environments to which we are exposed – from advertising to literature, search engines to performance art – conditions our attention in different ways. We also need to be aware of how the ways that we manage and direct our attention not only affect us on an individual level, but also deeply shape our relations with others.
In a world where the demands on our attention are ever-increasing, this timely and original book will be of great interest to students and scholars in media and communications and in literary and cultural studies, and to anyone concerned about the long-term consequences of the profusion of images and digital content in the age of the internet.