There’s an uh…just a moment….yes Like… as I was saying there’s a thing that is causing some debate over the future…of the future of that-which-that-concentration. Not concentration so much as the removal of all the other things that can be distracting. Distraction. It’s bad. It’s everywhere and it’s digital.

The human attention span is threatened: civilisation may depend on it, yet like a rock star on coke, or a surly teenager, we blow it on all kinds of distractions.

While all the focus is on… Microsoft published a report which stated that the widespread usage of smartphones has led to an 8 second attention span compared to 12 seconds in 2000. Facebook updates and YouTube videos are more …That’s a 33% loss. Microsoft didn’t state what the attention loss was over but their end user license agreements are well-known to glaze the eyes and halt mental function

Statistics: Great, aren’t they? There’s one used by the media. The average viewer has a low and rapidly falling attention. In political campaigns that can have a… politicians have to speak in slogans. There’s no empirical evidence for crashing attention spans as fact. It allows media to dictate the form and flow of information. As opinion and current practice it’s a certainty.

For several hundred years people have complained that it’s not what it used to be, or it’s all getting worse. It’s a predictable and relative perception. It exaggerates and privileges an unreliable point of view.

While all the attention is on reading and the loss there, think a bit about writers. It affects them too and it takes forever to write a paragraph as all the distractions are killing the flow of concentration that Dickens took for granted.

In the grab of anecdotal opinion the analysis and data by Daniel Levitin and Susan Greenfield is excluded. Quantifiable and measurable evaluation should improve understanding. Their work is not the same as the spurious uncorroborated semi-plausible statements that are pushed through comment pages.

Not that it matters. Not that any of you have read this far.

©Copyright Guy Cranswick 2015. All Rights Reserved.


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