Back in 1971, when the web was still twenty years off

and the smallest computers were the size of delivery vans,

before the founders of Google had even managed to get themselves born,

the polymath economist Herbert A. Simon wrote

maybe the most concise possible description of our modern struggle:

“What information consumes is rather obvious:

It consumes the attention of its recipients.

Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention,

and a need to allocate that attention efficiently

among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.”

As beneficiaries of the greatest information boom in the history of the world,

we are suffering, by Simon’s logic,

a correspondingly serious poverty of attention. Amen.


~ by eaesthete on 05/21/09.

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