Howard Rheingold’s Netsmart (2012) focuses on how to traverse the internet and our age of social media more conciously. One of his main points of interest is how he as a professor made notice of student’s havbt of checking their phones and laptops during his lechtures and how we divide our attention on the internet.
One of the first things he suggests when talking about this, is that we need to be more consious about our attention; we have to pay attention to our attention. I know if I let my mind wanders I can go between my tabs unconsiously and visit several sites without really doing much on either in a short amount of time. I end up feeling restless on the internet. If I keep myself aware of where my attention wanders however, it doesn’t happen as much.
When we do focus our attention, you might also experience selective inatention. this is to say, you filter out certsain “distractions” when you focus on a goal that might be important for other tasks or in general, but not immediatly reltated to your current focus point. An example he refers to is Daniel Simons’s “awareness test” video. If you do know know of it, I suggest looking at it.
I think one of Rheingold’s biggest messages on attention and technology in general is to be mindful of it. He talks substantially about how parents neglect to pay attention to their children in favor of being on their Blackberries (this book is from 2012 after all). And this can be also said for their use of smartphones and social media in general. You should be mindful on when you use the technology and when you shouldn’t as well as be aware of how you use your attention when you are online and how your media practices affect you.
As a book it was easy to follow and I would reccomend a read even if you’re not in academia or a student. The book talks about more than just attention, such as the “crap detector” and online collaberation.
Net Smart: How to Thrive Online, Howard Rheingold (2014)