Attention merchants: Harvesters of human attention

A while back, I wrote a very lengthy and super detailed article on the attention economy: how and why big data is hijacking your mind. Honestly? Even I don’t read super long articles on the web anymore. I don’t have the attention span for it (Oops…)

So, in all fairness, I’ve decided to repost the article in four parts. This is part two, and highly edited.

Please see the original article for references.

Without further ado…


A quick Google search defines attention as:

  1. notice taken of someone or something; the regarding of someone or something as interesting or important.
  2. the action of dealing with or taking special care of someone or something.

Attention is a very valuable asset. It is what allows us to be aware of our surroundings, our safety, and our well-being. Our attention helps us focus, concentrate, learn, grow, connect with one another amongst other important functions.

We are where our attention is.
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A short introduction to the attention economy

A while back, I wrote a very lengthy and super detailed article on the attention economy: how and why big data is hijacking your mind.

Honestly?

Even I don’t read super long articles on the web anymore. I don’t have the attention span for it (Oops…).

So, in all fairness, I’ve decided to repost the article in four parts, with minor edits for ease of readability.

Please see the original article for references.

Without further ado…


Back in 1997, Michael H. Goldhaber pened in Wired magazine, “the currency of the New Economy won’t be money, but attention – A radical theory of value.”

The article was titled Attention Shoppers!

Continue reading “A short introduction to the attention economy”

Read a book instead

Every year, millions of people make New Year’s resolutions hoping to spark positive change in their lives. Reading is one of the most popular resolutions for many people, including myself. And, for very good reasons.

Reading is an excellent hobby with many benefits.

It puts our brain to work.

It involves several brain functions, including visual and auditory processes, phonemic awareness, fluency, comprehension, and more. Reading increases our attention spans, focus and concentration. Reading also stimulates mental processes, and that helps preserve memory skills as we grow older.

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Taking a digital break

What better time than the end of the year, and 2020 at that, to take a much need digital break from the online world?

It all started with a conversation.

Last Thursday, Mine from @unapologetically.mine and I got on Instagram Live to chat about protecting our inner peace while using social media and being online in general. Our conversation inspired me to take a digital break.

Like, from Instagram.

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Radical digital declutter to minimize digital overwhelm

A digital declutter journey.

Taking my own advice, I paid attention to what part of my digital life was causing me the most stress. Email was the number one offender.

On a recent vacation, I experimented with life without email. For a week, I didn’t check my email at all. It was simply amazing, glorious, freeing, delightful, exceptional…

*Sigh.*

Since I can’t completely opt-out of emails, I wanted to figure out a way to make email less painful. The solution? A radical declutter of my email and online accounts to minimize digital overwhelm.

Without further ado…

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Is digital declutter for you?

Digital declutter is a very personal journey.

For some, it’s their email inbox that is cluttered and stressful. For others, it’s their desktop overflowing with files and documents.

Below are three ideas to determine if digital declutter is for you.

1. Pay Attention

What, if any, area of your digital space is overflowing and stressful?

Is it the unread emails? Is it the to-read, to-watch, to-listen bookmarked pages? Is it your social media feed? What about your cluttered desktop?

Assess, and determine.

2. Identify Top Offenders

What areas of your digital space is the most cluttered or stressful?

While it could be one or ten, I advise people to pick 1-2 areas to start with.

Digital decluttering can be burdensome because it’s easy to hoard stuff in the digital space since we don’t see the clutter pile up around us. It exists in the cyber space.

Once you declutter one area and see how rewarding it is to keep your digital space clutter-free, you can use that as motivation to move forward with the rest of your digital space.

3. Visualize It

Close your eyes.

Visualize your day with less email to sift thorough when you open you inbox. How about only a handful of apps on your phone? Imagine your desktop super organized with a few folders and you always know exactly where to look for important documents?

Whatever your ideal is, visualize it and feel it.

Does it feel good?


If you have determined digital declutter is for you, and I hope it is, I have a tip to make the experience a breeze— okay, less painful— for you.

Give yourself time, but also put a date on it (oh, oh, oh!)

Rome wasn’t built in a day, but Rome was built. #okurrrrr

Give yourself enough time to tackle decluttering your digital space, but also set a clear timeframe. If you are a tomorrow-junkie like me, postponing everything to tomorrow, setting a specified period of time to tackle a project will be useful.

Personally, I’ve dedicated this month to do a digital declutter, Digital Declutter December. Next week, I will be sharing what areas of my digital clutter I’m simplifying.

Stay tuned!

Until next time. . . 

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How to stay informed while avoiding media hysteria

What’s hoarding toilet papers got to do a fatal flu virus outbreak? Good ol’ media.

Imagine this.

The year is 2020.

A flu virus, the deadliest in history, by the name of coronavirus has infected and wiped out 99.9 percent of the world’s population.

At the same time, aliens have decided to pay our planet a visit.

At arrival, they find the streets strangely quiet— shops, restaurants, cafes, and stores are shut down. As the aliens make their way from one house to the next, they discover dead bodies after dead bodies.

What’s more strange is the piles of item, labeled toilet paper, they discover in every house.

The aliens are puzzled, and search online the definition of ‘toilet paper’ to figure out what it is— “paper in sheets or on a roll for wiping oneself clean after urination or defecation.”

They are puzzled, once again.

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Extreme world views often only exist online, and what to *actually* think of Donald Trump

Do you ever read, watch, or see something extremely outrages online, be it a Facebook post, a YouTube video, or a comment on a blog article, and feel greatly irritated and annoyed?

There have been many times where I have come across such content online that elicit strong negative emotions in me, where I’ve felt personally attacked and insulted.

After some internal debate and careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion that extreme opinions are often over-exaggerated, logically flawed and inconsistent, and only exist because of the safety and anonymity online platforms provided. 

I have decided they aren’t worth my attention, nor a prolonged reaction out of me.

Experience has shown me that extreme world views often are the loudest online.
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Five tips for reducing inbox clutter

Raise your hand if you have ever been personally victimized by an overflowing, cluttered, anxiety-inducing inbox. ✋

Email, an abbreviation of “electronic mail,” was invented in the early 1970s by Ray Tomlinson as a personal side project. Tomlinson later said he “had no notion whatsoever of what the ultimate impact would be.”

Since the first email sent by Tomlinson in 1971, email has ushered in an incredible new era of communication we now enjoy with billions of people all over the world sending and receiving emails every day.

What Tomlinson, surely, did not anticipate back then was how ubiquitous, addictive and compulsive email would eventually become for its users.

How did an invention meant to serve as a speedy way for programmers and researchers to keep in touch – particularly for those who can’t be relied on to answer their phones become a nuance to our daily lives?

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