Linda Stone on Attention

Thu, 2005-09-15 13:04.
In 1997 I coined the phrase "continuous partial attention". For almost two decades, continuous partial attention has been a way of life to cope and keep up with responsibilities and relationships. We've stretched our attention bandwidth to upper limits. We think that if tech has a lot of bandwidth then we do, too.
With continuous partial attention we keep the top level item in focus and scan the periphery in case something more important emerges. Continuous partial attention is motivated by a desire not to miss opportunities. We want to ensure our place as a live node on the network, we feel alive when we're connected. To be busy and to be connected is to be alive.
We've been working to maximize opportunities and contacts in our life. So much social networking, so little time. Speed, agility, and connectivity at top of mind. Marketers humming that tune for two decades now.
Now we're over-stimulated, over-wound, unfulfilled.
... We're shifting into a new cycle, new set of behaviours and motivations. Attention is dynamic, and there are sociocultural influences that push us to pay attention one way or another. Our use of attention and how it evolves is culturally determined.
... So now we're overwhelmed, underfulfilled, seeking meaningful connections.
... Attention captured by marketing messages and leaders who give us a sense of trust, belonging in a meaningful way. Now we long for a quality of life that comes in meaningful connections to friends, colleagues, family that we experience with full-focus attention on relationships, etc.
The next aphrodisiac is committed full-attention focus. In this new area, experiencing this engaged attention is to feel alive. Trusted filters, trusted protectors, trusted concierge, human or technical, removing distractions and managing boundaries, filtering signal from noise, enabling meaningful connections, that make us feel secure, are the opportunity for the next generation. Opportunity will be the tools and technologies to take our power back.