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.