The Evolution of Attention

Your reading this text means you’re giving us something that many crave:


Attention is in high demand, and there isn’t much of it. Sixty percent (60%) of all iOS Apps and 4 million songs on Spotify have reportedly never been downloaded. At the same time, there is the kind of Attention people shun: from security services, from hackers and increasingly from Big Data. Data brokers have nonetheless hoarded up to 1.500 pieces of information per individual – every online computer is reportedly scanned by outsiders 3 times per minute. The quality and quantity of attention has changed over the last decade, and is likely to develop further in the future.

The Internet has enabled people to (re)connect with and give attention to people they’d otherwise not have been able to communicate with. However, the growth of online business and crime as well as political focus on terrorism is also pushing increasing numbers of security services and cybercriminals to take their business online.

In other words, the evolution of Attention is not just about technology – it is also a matter of politics and business. It is how people notice the existence of a complex web of interdependent trends that shape society. The New Normal will analyse those trends and deconstruct utopian and distopian scenarios for the future, in order to outline concrete possibilities and threats for our readers.

In this publication, we’ll start with the subject and object of much Attention: Millennials or Generation Y, loosely defined as people born between 1985 and 2000. Much of their social life is exercised in social media and games, and their self-perception is shaped to a great extent by their online experiences. Declining numbers of likes depress many Millennials’ self-esteem, whereas internet and gaming addictions are multiplying. The apparent ease with which they share personal data contrasts the value that others give to privacy, and raises questions about the feasibility and nature of anonimity. We ask ourselves the question: at what point will internet disruptions lead to social and psychological problems?

Generation X, those born between 1965 and 1985, have seen many ideological hopes of the early internet age being trashed by later developments. Many dreamt about the free exchange of online information, not about cyber crime and internet surveillance. Filtering of content was supposed to increase the relevance of information that made it through, the “filter bubble” leaves many people devoid of new ideas however. Digital entertainment was supposed to give independent artists access to a global audience, in practice however many digital artists are struggling for Attention. In the second part of this publication, we’ll evaluate the degree to which scepticism of Generation X will shape development of the Internet.

In the third and last section, we address the perspective of Baby Boomers (born 1946-1965) on the Evolution of Attention. Even though most of our readers are Generation X or Y, they know and often share issues that “silver surfers” have with Automated Attention. Businesses have managed to introduce ATMs and E-Business to their lives – how can society manage the robotization of healthcare, housekeeping and logistics? After all, nurses, cleaners and mailmen provide a fair share of the Attention that many Baby Boomers receive. Also sales and service are expected to be transformed by Deep Learning and Online Marketing, affecting the lives of Baby Boomers and others. To what degree will people notice the difference between human and automatized Attention? 


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