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So I planned on reading a ton of books this summer... or at least 11. I gave a crack at 4 and barely opened the other 7, but here they are, in glorious alphabetical order (which unfortunately means the bitchiest sounding book is first):
Bauerlein, Mark. The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don't Trust Anyone Under 30). New York: Tarcher, 2008.

Beck, John C., and Thomas H. Davenport. The Attention Economy: Understanding the New Currency of Business. New York: Harvard Business School Press, 2002.

Crary, Jonathan. Suspensions of Perception: Attention, Spectacle, and Modern Culture (October Books). London: The Mit Press, 2001.

Gallagher, Winifred. Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life. New York: Penguin Press, 2009.

Jackson, Maggie. Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 2009.

James, William. "The Principles of Psychology ." Classics in the History of Psychology. http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/James/Principles/index.htm (accessed August 25, 2009).

Klein, Naomi. No Logo: No Space, No Choice, No Jobs. New York, NY: Picador, 2002.

Lanham, Richard A.. The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of Information (Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology). Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 2006.

Meyer, David E. Attention and Performance. Volume XIV.. London: The Mit Press, 1993.

Meyrowitz, Joshua. No Sense of Place: The Impact of Electronic Media on Social Behavior. New York: Oxford University Press, USA, 1986.

Zielinski, Siegfried. Deep Time of the Media: Toward an Archaeology of Hearing and Seeing by Technical Means (Electronic Culture: History, Theory, and Practice). London: The Mit Press, 2008.

While I've complained enough about Rapt, I've also dived into Suspensions of Perception, one of the attention economy books, a bit of the William James and a crack of Attention and Performance, largest book ever.

We were also tasked with writing a little introduction to what we're thinking about for our theses so I'll post that here. It's rough but it's as good as introduction as I'm going to write today.

The direction for my thesis work is attention and the lack of space within the context of media and information overload. Attention as a subject has changed dramatically since the 1800s and the Industrial Revolution. In recent years there has been a near explosion in media types and new technologies. I find, however, that these new media and technologies do very little to simplify existence or create space–something I find lacking in current society. Tech seems to over-complicate, fracture and otherwise indefinitely distract people. By researching attention from both a theoretical/philosophical standpoint and from a scientific/technical standpoint I hope to find ways to use current technology to alleviate the strain of media. In very simple terms I want to take what people are discovering about cognitive science and attention and use it to design, redesign or make obsolete a current time-consuming system. Right now I am thinking of language-based multitasking and what kinds of verbal tasks might be otherwise directed in tactile tasks, the kinds of things your muscles learn to do. This could, however, change with more research. The desired result of such a project is to help create space in one’s life.


I wrote a couple more lines but this is the majority. Also, I'm vaguely referring to my thoughts on tangible computing in the second to last line but only because I really have not researched anything enough to know how useful sorting email with one's fingers would actually be. Would it be anything other than novel to have, say, an email bracelet that changed texture when you got a new email so you could effectively ignore spams, mailing list emails and bulk mail while paying attention to personal letters and whatnot? I don't know. It might be cool but it could be totally useless or worse, complicate an already complicated and irritating system.

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8.28.2009 // 0 Comments // READ FULL POST...


Tangible Computing Part II

Over dinner with friends the subject of notch codes and what the hell they are came up. It took some late night html wrangling for my brain to put our conversation together with my earlier random dream about sorting email with one's hands. (Although I realize that the idea puts another step between the human and the communication and that's possibly not a useful direction to take, I'm still intrigued by the idea... at least I am at 2am.) So, notch codes are cut outs in sheet film that are standardized for different kinds of film and that help one tell which side of the film is the emulsion side. Cutouts are used because you develop film in the dark (of course) and so can't use your eyes. I wonder how fast photographers could sort through their film (although I don't think the system was developed for speed) and if notch code knowledge could possibly be stored in tactile memory (if such a thing exists... I really need to get on those psych research books).

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8.17.2009 // 0 Comments // READ FULL POST...


Relink: A short manifesto on the future of attention

A Short Manifesto on the Future of Attention. What does it say? I don't know. I'm working and haven't had time to read it yet, but I need to keep note of these things so that when I do have time, I remember what I was (ha) supposed to be paying attention too. More links include Gauging Your Distraction, The Brain: Stop Paying Attention: Zoning Out Is a Crucial Mental State, Chris and Malcolm are Both Wrong (not sure if this is relevant or not), Attention Literacy, The Myth of Multitasking, The Psychology of Attention and People with Lots of Working Memory are not Easily Distracted. Speaking of distraction, I smell french fries. Yum.

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8.13.2009 // 0 Comments // READ FULL POST...


Tangible Computing

So I know very little about this tangible computing beyond the marble answering machine and, like, those gizmos in Minority Report. I woke up this morning with an idea in my head about how one could go through one's morning emails by sorting them manually, as in with one's hands. The general thought is that there would either be some kind of device or some kind of interface (gloves perhaps) that simulated device. Certain emails would have certain contours. Something that was sent directly to me and no one else by someone other than a company (an individual) would feel larger or weigh more, perhaps than random almost-spams from, like, Office Depot. There might be some kind of punch-out mechanism that would mimic labeling or starring.

Would this make going through email easier? I'm not sure. I don't really have a problem going through email in the first place but it might make it easier to go through email and, say, listen to the news at the same time. The idea of porting different activities that require (or pretend to require) visual attention to other senses appeals to me, so although I have not delved as deeply into my reading list as I would've liked this summer, this is the direction I'm most interested in at the moment.

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8.12.2009 // 0 Comments // READ FULL POST...



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