Attention inflation

I’m not a fan of the term “information overload”. The ultimate responsibility of the amount of information a person consumes is really down to themselves.

A while ago I deleted my Instagram account, never used it. Today I deleted my Foursquare account, once again I never used it. They were time wasters, tools requiring my attention when it could be better used elsewhere.  Facebook went too. 

What I did notice though was the increased time required to consume the information in general. If you think about the push from mobile from the web to access silos of information, whether that be social, information, news or whatever. It’s easier to rely on the notification, an alert, to remind you to look at some new thing that’s arrived.

RSS feeds are still useful to me. I curate content that’s interesting to me. The real issue is I still don’t have that time to go a catch up on 30+ RSS feeds and find the stories that are interesting or relevent to me. 

What became a useful way to have one place to catch up on stories is now another time sink as I wade through posts that I think might be useful to me.  It created an increase on my attention which means I’m more than likely sacrificing time on something else.  

The evolution of my RSS reading went along the lines of:

Read the website

Subscribe to the RSS feed

Have a RSS reader that I read on a periodic basis

Got busy, forgot the RSS reader

Now playing catch up with 500+ stories that I’m never going to read

Tag everything as read and promise myself to check more frequently.

It didn’t happen, a 1000+ stories this time.


A RSS won’t change my attention behaviour, nor will it disturb me to read more stories. My attention is increased the longer I leave that gap and because of knowing it’s going to take time I then stop looking at it. Curation gone wrong.

The likes of SnapChat and Facebook Poke, as much I’m against their potential uses do give a clue to where this is all going. A predefined period of time to see a picture or post is then removed from view. SnapChat users aren’t creating content, they’re controlling the attention span on a person or specific group of people. If you miss it, you miss it and that’s just tough.  

It’s no longer about broadcasting information to whoever is willing to listen. It’s about carefully curated conversations, privacy and using the internet as the delivery mechanism.




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