The Ecology of Attention

Written by Yves Citton | translated by Barnaby Norman
Polity | January 10, 2017

Information overload, the shallows, weapons of mass distraction, the googlization of minds: countless commentators condemn the flood of images and information that dooms us to a pathological attention deficit.

In this new book, cultural theorist Yves Citton goes against the tide of these standard laments to offer a new perspective on the problem of attention in the digital age. Phrases like paying attention and investing one s attention attest to our mistaken belief that attention can be conceptualized in narrow economic terms. We are constantly drawn towards attempts to quantify and commodify attention, even down to counting the number of 'likes' a picture receives on Facebook or a video on YouTube. By contrast, Citton argues that we should conceptualize attention as a kind of ecology and examine how the many different environments to which we are exposed from advertising to literature, search engines to performance art condition our attention in different ways.

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REVIEW

"Within the growing field of attention studies, Yves Citton?s new book is a superb and indispensable intervention. He provides a devastating analysis of the neoliberal attention economy and opens up crucial pathways for resisting its imperatives."--Jonathan Crary, Columbia University

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