The title is not originally mine. It’s from the American economist and psychologist, Herbert A. Simon, one of the first academics to accurately describe the relationship between information and attention
Every day – and it is no longer news to say this, we are increasingly inundated with information. From remote control to Google search; from Twitter to Facebook; from e-newspapers to assorted apps; from WhatsApp to Instagram, it’s all a myriad of information circulating at dizzying speed empowered by the internet.
In the information economy in which we find ourselves, we are either buyers or sellers of information, or even both. In an article published in 197, Simon noted, already at that time, that “… information consumes the attention of its addressees. Thus, a large amount of information creates a poverty of attention”, that is, to decipher it, one must devote a share of time and attention. Simon, continues, “attention is the psychological tool we use to discard irrelevant information so that we can focus on what is important to us. As the information available keeps growing in exponential proportions, our attention becomes increasingly strained and challenged” [cf: Simon, H. A. (1971) “Designing Organizations for an Information-Rich World” in: Martin Greenberger, Computers, Communication, and the Public Interest, Baltimore. MD: The Johns Hopkins Press. pp. 40-41].
Our attention is a powerful asset in all our relationships, and it must be managed with increased attention.
We must apply some discipline to our messages or face the risk of having our attention, and our relationships, hijacked by the force of bad habits.