George Sarant

A raw feed of material that may be updated or appear elsewhere.

INFORMATION AND ATTENTION

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I’ve just deleted a few hundred Emails off of my computer. Virtually all of them were things I might be interested in and would get back to them later. But when later came they were mostly obsolete. The same thing is true of periodicals. I used to subscribe to a lot of magazines, and they would just accumulate, meant to be read at some point, but the piles just grew larger. However, when enough time passes, they are obsolete, and can be perused quickly or not at all and be disposed of, with no real loss of information that has not since been updated. So at some point I seriously cut back on magazine subscriptions, which still left a lot to be disposed of. After enough time you can come across something interesting, such as the fact that in turn-of-the-century computer magazines I didn’t notice a single reference to the now ubiquitous Google. It was still under the radar.

It is less messy and obviously less costly to get information off of the Internet, which is the main reason newspapers and magazines are on a downward slope. I’ve frequently turned down free, complimentary, or nominally priced magazines with the realization that I’m never going to have time to read them. At the same time on the Internet there are an unlimited number of sources competing for attention, and no one can keep up with all they might like to. So it occurs to me now that our attention span has limited bandwidth, which means that time and space are at a premium. That being the case it would seem logical that not only should publications be free, but maybe they should pay you for paying attention to them given the limited amount of space that is actually available in your head. I don’t know if publishers would go that far, but at the very least they may have to look at a free delivery model, for what in fact is the privilege of getting your attention, given all the other things that are competing for your time. Thus it is well worth taking a moment to think about what is taking your time and what is really deserving of it.

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Written by georgesarant

May 13, 2009 at 6:26 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

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