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Attention Seeking: Distraction as a Cultural Dilemma in the Digital Age

Woods, Alastair (2020) Attention Seeking: Distraction as a Cultural Dilemma in the Digital Age. [MRP]

Item Type: MRP
Creators: Woods, Alastair

Since the introduction of the internet into mainstream use, there has been growing concern over the impact of digital media and technology on our attention. This anxiety is based on a material theory of distraction, which posits that our attention is being pushed, pulled and depleted by technology that is intentionally designed to be distracting. Investigating this premise through history, literature, popular culture, philosophy, science and art reveals that distraction may not be a material problem, but a cultural one that is deeply embedded in the fabric of Western society.

Using Sohail Inayatullah’s Causal Layered Analysis (CLA) method, this project argues that our perceptions of attention and distraction can be traced back to Judeo-Christian morality that posits attention as virtue and distraction as sin. This rigid binary has shaped our philosophical, systemic and material orientation toward distraction as a failure of character. A future-state CLA is then built to articulate an alternative vision of attention not as a finite resource, but a mutual construction between ourselves, others and the world. In reframing what it means to pay attention in the digital age, it is argued that distraction does not have to be a turning away from the world, but rather a deeper engagement with it.

Date: 2020
Uncontrolled Keywords: design, foresight, futures thinking, systems thinking, causal layered analysis, technology, attention, distraction, culture, art, painting, photography, history, philosophy, communications
Divisions: Graduate Studies > Strategic Foresight and Innovation
Date Deposited: 06 May 2020 03:01
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2021 21:30
URI: https://openresearch.ocadu.ca/id/eprint/2944

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