Essay: Attention and sex

At e-tech 2006 the theme was the attention economy – but the conversation was mostly technocentric despite attention being a 100% human resource.

In this essay I discuss a view of attention that’s centered on people – attention is the most precious thing we have and I explore why we’ve lost control of it, how to get some control back and the role of desire and intimacy in how we spend our time.

Essay #51 – Attention and sex.

8 Responses to “Essay: Attention and sex”

  1. Jamie Fristrom

    Ironic that the only reason I came across this article is because I do the exact thing it warns against…I was talking to my wife on the phone while browsing the web.

    If I was already the man-of-undivided-attention, I may never have come across it. But if I was the man-of-undivided-attention, I wouldn’t have needed to come across it.

    I think it’s very important. To say it was like icewater on my spine would be an exaggeration, but I definitely felt *something*. I’ve been living my life like it’s *The Sims* – watching TV, eating dinner, and talking to my wife at the same time in order to optimize my happiness – but maybe you’re right, maybe that really is suboptimal. Instead of extracting full value from any of those interactions I’m extracting a shallow value from each.

    This essay deserves more attention. Pun intended.

  2. Scott (admin)

    Good point – I admit the attention thing is more complicated that this essay suggests. Sometimes wandering and browsing lead to important things. It’s good and healthy not to always have a strict goal in mind or try to stare at things until they melt.

    So I don’t think I nailed the issue completely. I guess to put it another way: everything should be in moderation, including moderation.

  3. Timothy

    Wasn’t it Covey who said that the “quality of our yes’s is determined by the quantity of our no’s”? This well worded essay drives home that point very well. As project managers, we’re bombarded by information overload and sometimes we need to learn to manage the filters by which we manage the information. With coffee as well as with life, the level of filtering is what enhances the flavor to the point where it’s just right. And “wandering and browsing” lead to new flavors… again, in coffee and in life. Great essay!

  4. Len

    I believe it is a contemporary thing, something new that relates to the rat race that we are in. And certainly not someting we can measure with a nice little Web2.0 app.

    If I see the difference between older people and my little brother who is only 12 years old, how they use the web, I can’t but think that this is something new. My brother doesn’t waste time, click click. Older people take time to make a decision whether to click a link or not.
    They all use their time in a very different way.

  5. dan

    i remember i went through a stage of thinking that after i picked my daughter up from childcare i could still work on during the afternoon while she did stuff too. trouble is that children expect, demand and deserve a certain amount of attention from their parents and all that ended up happening was that i would get frustrated with her for interrupting my coding. then i got wise and stopped trying to work during the afternoons i pick her up and instead i make myself available to her and my life is definitely the richer for it.

  6. Gretchen Hartke

    This is a beautiful essay, Scott! I’m reminded about Thomas Edison’s tactic to work under quotas. He had a goal for how many minor and how many major ideas he had in a given week/month/year. Maybe this quota system would have helped him survive the Information Age.



  1. Attention & Sex

    I am signed up to a Scott Berkun’s newsletter which is rarely too exilherating. It focuses mainly on project management and other not so exciting things. His latest essay however is something I think we can all understand and relate back to our l…

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