Resources

My iPhone Turned Me Into a Squirrel-Chasing Dog

Katie Hafner writes in Wired:

“I have a condition, marked by an inability to remain focused on a single task without getting distracted by something that catches my eye or floats to the top of the running to-do list in my head.

My condition has crept up on me over the past decade or so. Unlike classic attention deficit disorder, which is associated with functional impairments in the brain’s neurotransmitters, I have brought this problem upon myself. And only I can work my way out of it.

A typical 45 seconds of living with episodic partial attention: I begin to put the dog’s breakfast in his bowl only to notice a spot on the countertop that must be wiped clean this very second, which leads me across the room to the rag cupboard. During my journey, I hear a text arrive on my phone, which is on the kitchen table, so I do a hairpin turn to check the message, and when I pick up the phone I see a notification of a breaking CNN story. I sit down to read it. I’m two paragraphs into the story when I remember to check the text message and start to respond, which feels like work. Wasn’t I about to make myself a cup of coffee? I get up to do that. But why is the dog staring at me so plaintively?”

Stare Into The Lights My Pretties

YouTube as a parody of itself?

It never ceases to amaze me just how stupid screen culture is.

But now it’s even parodying itself—in the way only the online spectacle can: by folding back into itself to keep us watching.

The problems and concerns, long since established, are all now just a big joke. Short attention spans. Superficial engagement with information. Advertising masquerading as content. The convergence of extremely powerful corporate empires that influence what we think, feel, and do, in a way never before possible. Distraction from the real world, while the real world burns.

The story of this first short is about the end of the world, and nobody even cares.  Could that be any more close to home?

There’s also a short about an “Uber for people,” invoking the themes of exploitation, surveillance, and the enslavement-addiction to technological solutions that parodies the screen culture of today—especially the mindset of “apps fix all.”

Can we see this as one thing in terms of another?

Likewise with, “Enter the Hive Mind.”

What will you do, when it’s time you’re asked to put your whole self into the global computer even more completely than now? What is your personal threshold? Will you continue to “breathe life” into the machine?

Is the future of screen culture watching on fast-forward?

Make note of the screen culture symptoms: lack of linear narrative, increase in speed, shorter attention span, skimming, less engagement with content/meaning, “efficiency”, increase in scatterbrain, etc. Also, the descriptions about how this behaviour effects the perception of reality.

“I watch television and films in fast forward. This has become increasingly easy to do with computers (I’ll show you how) and the time savings are enormous. […] I started doing this years ago to make my life more efficient.

[…]

As I’ve come to consume all my television on my computer, I’ve developed other habits, too. I don’t watch linearly anymore; I often scrub back and forth to savor complex scenes or to skim over slow ones. In other words, I watch television like I read a book. I jump around. I re-read. Sometimes I speed up. Sometimes I slow down.

I confess these new viewing techniques have done something strange to my sense of reality. I can’t watch television in real-time anymore. Movie theaters feel suffocating. I need to be able to fast-forward and rewind and accelerate and slow down, to be able to parcel my attention where it’s needed.

[…]

We risk transforming, perhaps permanently, the ways in which our brains perceive people, time, space, emotion. And isn’t that marvelous?”

The Outrage Machine

This short video explores how the online world has overwhelmingly become the popular outlet for public rage by briefly illustrating some of the many stories of everyday people which have suddenly become public enemy number one under the most misunderstood of circumstances and trivial narratives. With the web acting like a giant echo-chamber, amplifying false stories and feeding on the pent-up aggression of the audience watching the spectacle, The Outrage Machine shows how these systems froth the mob mentality into a hideous mess, as a good example of where the spectacle goes and how its intensity has to keep ratcheting up in order maintain the audience attention, in a culture of dwindling attention spans, distraction and triviality.

Filmmaker and author Jon Ronson also recently wrote a book about this topic too, which is quite good. So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. His TED talk is essentially a 17 min overview:

And a longer presentation with interview and Q&A from earlier this year:

Why movie trailers now begin with five-second ads for themselves

Emphasis added.

“Jason Bourne takes off his jacket, punches a man unconscious, looks forlornly off camera, and then a title card appears. The ad — five seconds of action — is a teaser for the full Jason Bourne trailer (video), which immediately follows the teaser. In fact, the micro-teaser and trailer are actually part of the same video, the former being an intro for the latter. The trend is the latest example of metahype, a marketing technique in which brands promote their advertisements as if they’re cultural events unto themselves.

[…]

“Last year, the studio advertised the teaser for Ant-Man with a ten-second cut of the footage reduced to an imperceptive scale. […] But where previous metahype promoted key dates in a marketing campaign—like official trailer releases and fan celebrations—the burgeoning trend of teasers within trailers exist purely to retain the viewer’s attention in that exact moment. The teaser within the trailer speaks to a moment in which we have so many distractions and choices that marketers must sell us on giving a trailer three minutes of our time. This practice isn’t limited to movie trailers, though. Next time you’re on Facebook, pay attention to how the popular videos in your newsfeed are edited. Is the most interesting image the first thing you see? And does that trick get you to stop scrolling and watch?”