How to keep freedom of attention in the times of digital distraction.
In this brief animation featuring audio from a 2017 lecture at the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) in London, James Williams, a doctoral candidate at the Oxford Internet Institute and a former Google employee, argues that the consolidation of the ‘attention economy’ to just a handful of companies is an unprecedented and deeply fraught human experiment – and one that demands active, attentive resistance.
From fitness tracking devices to search engines, it’s easy to think of personalised technologies as convenient shortcuts and useful tools for working towards goals. But, argues Williams, the primary aim of personalised tech is to keep users coming back by any means necessary – and often in a way that encourages empty distraction.
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