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The Attention Economy

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Over the years the internet has become a major element in the world. It has been integrated into every aspect of today’s society: becoming part of our social life, education system and everyday routines, such as online shopping or booking tickets. It is responsible for the vast networking and connecting of the world. The world has become a smaller place, where it is possible to be in one country while talking and seeing another person in a different continent.

The advances and conveniences the internet has created is on one level an incredible advantage to society, however on another level there are many subtle pitfalls that have been created with the advancing of technology and easy access of the internet.

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In the following essay the merits and pitfalls of being able to access large amounts of information from the internet will be discussed as well as trying to avoid the downside of operating in an “attention economy”. The internet has many advantages.

Firstly on a social level, websites such as facebook, Twitter and MySpace, have allowed for people all over the world to be connected. It is a cheap, fast and easy way of communicating. More and more public places such as restaurants and airports have what are known as “hotspots” where one can access the internet off digital devices such as computers, iPods and PsP’s. Arguments can be settled in a matter of minutes by “googling” the particular subject matter. Internet allows you to check the weather report, read magazines, newspapers and articles.

This makes one more aware of what is happening around the world and people become more informed about general topics as it is more convenient to check the internet and get an overview of everything rather than buying each individual magazine or newspaper. Another advantage of the internet is being able to shop online: where you can compare the prices of items and simply “add them to your basket”, pay by credit card and have it delivered to your doorstep in a couple of days. There is no doubt that these convenient services the internet offers are hugely advantageous to society.

On an academic level, compared with a library, the internet is faster, easier to use and a whole lot more convenient. One no longer has to queue to find a book, only to discover that the book has already been taken out. The internet is there at ones disposal offering all the information the library can as well as more. This is however the irony. The internet offers such a vast amount of information that one needs to actually question how much of a good thing this is. There are different ways this can be categorized.

When a subject matter is researched on Google, thousands of related sites are displayed, each containing masses of information. “Internet now offers the capability to find everything man has created and put on the network, and to get limited access to a huge amount of information resources. ”[Krupa 2008] Having too much information can become a problem. For most people having all this information on one particular subject matter can become distracting. Bryan Appleyard discusses distraction in his article “Stoooopid…. why the Google generation isn’t as smart as it thinks. Saying “Attention is the golden key to the mystery of human consciousness”(2008). With too much information it is easy to become confused but more distressing is the fact that one is not absorbing all that is being read. There is no longer time to stop, think about and question the information. (Carr, 2008) On the one hand it is so helpful to use the internet to get a brief overview on a topic on which one knows nothing about, or to get definitions of words in short space of time. On the downside though when researching there is always the question of reliability and credibility.

Wikipedia, a website where one can post information is a perfect example of a website where one can get an overview on a topic in which they have no knowledge; at the same time the mere fact that anyone can post information gives one reason to question its reliability. A way to overcome this downfall is to always check up on each website you use. Check the authors name and who they link to, as well as checking the spelling and grammar and the domain name. By doing this you are not only checking up on the credibility of the website but also making an effort to pay more attention.

In association with the disadvantages and further negative effects of using the internet does not really affect our daily lives but rather the way we think. Using the internet consistently causes biological changes in the brain, when browsing one is required to change the way information is comprehended. (Carr, 2008) A major pitfall with regard to the internet is that there is simple too much information. With an overload of information one tends to “skim” read over articles, especially when reading on a computer screen, people’s eyes tend to get sore and tired.

So if every time someone researches a topic and simply glances over all the information, this can lead to laziness in which the habit can be carried out in things other than researching on the internet. One can become lazy when reading magazine articles and books. A way in which one benefit from the information the internet offers as well as focus all their attention on the information without multitasking, is to print out hard copies of the information. This not only reduces having to read off a screen but it is also less distracting.

With regard to ones attention, being on the internet is a lot more distracting then sitting in the library and reading from a book. Firstly there are many “pop-up” advertising boxes, when online sometimes it’s quite slow therefore you have to wait while a page is loading, this leads to one opening another page so before one knows it there are three or four pages open. One is no longer focussing all attention on one subject. People will often find themselves multitasking while searching online, whether it is having their facebook page open and swapping between the two sites or listening to music on their computer.

This becomes highly ineffective. When multitasking it is has been shown that one’s mental performance is impaired and results in more time being wasted (Rubinstein, 2001). It is evidently a lot less effective to multitask as one’s concentration is being split whereas if one was to perform one task all their attention would be focused on that task. Ones attention span is not lasting as long. “The news that used to last a day now lasts just a few hours, simply because we need to pay attention to the new news. ” (Iskold, 2007).

While there are so many merits and pitfalls of having such easy access to so much information on the internet, one need’s to find a way reaping the great benefits while avoiding the pitfalls of working in an “attention economy”. One way of doing this is to maintain the balance of “surfing the web” and making an effort to read books and newspapers. Using the internet in moderation as well as making a concerted effort to concentrate and not multitask while research on the web can help to avoid the long term effects of an attention deficit. We can be taught the skills of focussing and concentrating.

One needs to remove any perception that the internet has replaced printed media and rather think of it as working with it. In conclusion the benefits of the internet outweigh the slight drawbacks presently; however, the true effects of these drawbacks are largely unknown. It is for this reason that one needs to take action to ensure that we avoid the downside of operating in an “attention economy” by using the internet in moderation and being fully aware of avoiding distraction. As Bryan Appleyard states in his article “The brain is malleable.

Just as it can be trained to be distracted, so it can be trained to pay attention” (2008). Consciously paying attention and concentrating is a way of ensuring that you can benefit from all the information while simultaneously avoiding the hazard of operating in an “attention economy”. Referencing: 1. Appleyard, Bryan. 2008 Stoooopid …. why the Google generation isn’t as smart as it thinks. The Sunday Times Avaliable online. http://technology. timesonline. co. uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/the_web/article4362950. ece>. [27 September 2009] 2. Carr, Nicholas. Is Google Making Us Stupid?. The Atlantic July 2008 Available online. [29 September 2009) 3. Iskold, Alex, 2007, The attention economy:an overview, Avaliable online, http://www. readwriteweb. com/archives/attention_economy_overview. php [29 September 2009] 4. Krupa, Zenona, 2008, The internet – a threat or a supplement to the traditional library? Avaliable online, http://www. worlib. org/vol16no1-2/krupa_v16n1-2. shtml [28 September 2009] 5. Rubinstein, Joshua,2009. Executive Control of Cognitive Processes in Task Switching. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance Vol. 27, No. 4, 763-797 Available online . [27 September 2009]

Cite this The Attention Economy

The Attention Economy. (2018, Mar 08). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-attention-economy/

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