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Focus is cash in the economics of attention

Metroactive Features | Techsploits ["Attention!"]

Annalee on overstimulation, bad soccer calls, and the new currencies that comprise "the attention economy:"

But the researchers found something far more interesting. Subjects who made incorrect decisions under "noisy" conditions tended to have extremely high confidence that their decisions were right. They were far more confident than the subjects dealing with a noncluttered image.

"These results have practical implications for perceptual decisions in everyday life," wrote the authors in their paper. "They predict an increase in high-confidence errors when decisions are made in cluttered environments...."

And, later:

Consumers and producers of the attention economy are the inverse of those in the cash economy. Attention producers are users, and attention consumers are companies.

Attention producers need software that works like the Federal Reserve. It should keep attention inflation low by making it easier to get the right information quickly.

Nicely put. Someday I hope to serve honorably on the Federal Attention Reserve Board.

jeff's picture

First of all, "attention economy"...

First of all, "attention economy" ranks among the worst metaphors I've ever seen. Seriously, it's awful.

But more problematic is that Annalee abuses this study to illustrate an entirely different point. The Italian study (yes, I read it) is about visual clutter affecting our confidence in time-constrained decisions. Remove the time constraints, and you might remove the errors. Or might not. We have no data in this study to suggest either way.

Where does Annalee get off turning this study into a rant against info-overload? It's not about too much information, it's about meaningless visual clutter. It has nothing to do with attention. Maybe we should talk about distracting desktop patterns. But we have already rm'ed those, right?

One final point, especially in regards to the commenter who said this disproves the high school kid who claims to study better with music. Consider how a certain level of external, non-related stimuli can help you focus. It might be white or pink noise, or pacing in a dark room, or a walk around outside, or standing on a balance board. Music might indeed help, if it's the right kind (I hear Merlin sometimes likes "Music for Airports;" for me it's Arvo Part's "Tabula Rasa"). Sure, those high schoolers are talking about Slipknot or something, and it's just a dumb kid thing, but they've got a conceptual point, at least.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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