My older sister used to tell me off whenever she’d catch me impatiently flicking through the channels during commercial breaks. It never made sense to me as to why I’d ever want to ‘stay put’ like the commercial voice had told me to do, when there were clearly far better programs playing on the other channels. Little did I know that there were much deep-rooted, severe implications behind my actions. I later realized my attention span was the size of a peanut. And it still is. Though I’m working hard on improving it (Several failed attempts at Yoga and other Meditative exercises).
Truth is, we live in an information age. With the development of technology and the variety publication methods available out there, we find ourselves bombarded with a mass of information everyday. There is so much information out there, but there is only so little attention we can give to them. It’s almost like there’s a scarcity of attention (http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/5.12/es_attention.html), and companies, media platforms and publications are competing to fight for our attention.
Our world runs on the flow of information; it makes sense then to assert that our economy is made up by the exchange of data. Since the dissemination of information requires attention, this is made into a money-making enterprise. And why wouldn’t it be? ‘Attention’ is a basic human quality we all embody. We crave attention, and we pay attention. It is a quality for entrepreneurs around the world worth leeching onto because it is the only way they can effectively comminicate with their publics.
With that in mind, how do we as consumers handle the overload of information? How have we not suffocated under the neverending piles of information dropping down on us daily? The answer to that is; ‘Infotention’.
Infotention, a term invented by Howard Rheingold, describes our ability to filter through information and to choose certain material we feel are worth paying attention to.
Honing the mental ability to deploy the form of attention appropriate for each moment is an essential internal skill for people who want to find, direct, and manage streams of relevant information by using online media knowledgeably.
Knowing how to put together intelligence dashboards, news radars, and information filters from online tools like persistent search and RSS is the external technical component of information literacy.
If we become aware of this ‘tool’, this ability to effectively demonstrate ‘infotention’ , we would’ve attained the technical skill required to stay on top of the bombardment of information. We would be able to better channel our attention towards valuable information, saving us a significant amount time that’s usually spent unproductively skimming through pages of ineffectual data.