Fraying Attention


Silhouette picture of human head with multicolored rays emanating.

This image was created by Salvator Vuono. See below for a link to <a href="http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=659">his portfolio</a>.

I’m sensing that a slight shift is needed regarding to what and whom I turn my online attention.  Much of this shift — but not all of it — was brought on by my access to Google Plus (variously, Google+ or G+).

First, here are my attention-hogs.  These are the web applications I use daily, either on my laptop or smartphone:

  • Email (2 accounts)
  • Twitter/TweetDeck/other apps (2 accounts)
  • Facebook
  • Google Docs
  • RSS feed-reader
  • MSM news outlets (NYTimes, Washington Post, and 2 of my hometown newspapers)

These are the ones I use (or access) regularly (not daily, but 1-2 times per week):

  • WordPress (2 blogs)
  • Flickr
  • YouTube
  • Weather web sites (This is, after all, Washington, DC; we care passionately about the weather.)

The “attention economy” — at least as far as I’m concerned — is a zero-sum game.  I have only so much attention that I can pay. To every activity, not just online.  If I add things that need attention I’ll have to either pay marginally less attention to all the demands or drop at least one existing demand for my attention to ensure that the new demand is attended to.

That’s what happened when I met Google Plus.  An internal alarm sounded that went something like this: “Oh no, not another thing to pay attention to! Something’s gotta give!”

But I went ahead & jumped in.  To me, Google+ is this curious amalgamation of Twitter and Facebook (with just a hint of email, YouTube, and blogging tossed in).  Well, I already do all those, so why do I need G+ wrangling for my attention?

Hold that thought.

At about the same time, a nudge toward increased Facebook interaction also played a role.  I was live tweeting (from a distance, however) during a National Stuttering Association (NSA) conference in Fort Worth, TX, last week. I’ve attended NSA conferences for several years now, and know some of the “regulars” who attend; so I was interested in seeing their photos from the conference.  But there seems to be a trend this year to post conference pictures to individuals’ Facebook Walls, not to the NSA Organizational Facebook Wall or to a shared Yahoo Group.   Well, in many cases (depending on the person’s picture-sharing settings), I won’t be able to see the pictures unless I “Friend” them on Facebook.

I’ve drawn the line there, as well as with Google Plus: I’m not going to add more Facebook Friends (I already have enough stuff on my Wall) and I’m not going to continue to use G+ (because I already use Twitter & Facebook and other social media).

I may be characterized as a stick-in-the-mud Luddite for not wanting to use G+ or add more & more Facebook Friends.  But so be it.

The people that I would want to add to G+ “circles” are not on G+; but, heck, they’re already Friends on Facebook.  I’m not going to invite them to G+ just so I can have a better “circle” there.  They need to be convinced, as do I, of the relative value of forsaking Twitter & Facebook for the Google+ borg.

As for that move to post conference pictures to individual FB walls (with “Friend-only” permissions set), I’m not going there either. Posting pictures to a Yahoo Group (as in the past), leveraged an already existing attention seeker: email.  Excess email is easier to deal with than excess Wall posts by others.  I can delete an email, unread, with no qualms; I can’t gracefully “unFriend” someone when their News Feed gets too noisy for me.

So, my plan now to rein in the demands for my attention:

  • I will continue to use Twitter (tweeting as @Kickstand447 and @SeeBeeSez).
  • I will continue to use Facebook to share with friends and acquaintances and to be informed about them as well as the  groups and interests I have Supported or “Liked.”
  • I will continue to  post to this blog (and the other one I manage) and then post links to them on Twitter (and, for my personal blog, on Facebook as well).
  • I will continue to do my best to ensure that access to my photos and videos is as broad as possible.  But to maintain control, I have tried to ensure that no one else can “tag” my Facebook photos, even though they are open to everyone on Facebook. On Flickr, I have set nearly all  of my access to “public,” with an attribution license.
  • And for now, I will “downgrade” my Google+ account.  I’ll still be watching the blogs and other news about G+; and who know, I just might jump back in. But for now? I’m. Outta. There.

While doing some research for this blog, I came across the following resources that you may find interesting:

  1. The Psychology of Paying Attention
  2. NEW: “Paying Attention – The Ultimate Currency
  3. Books on the attention economy.
  4. General information on “attention economy” (Google search)
  5. Chris Brogan: “Google Plus Is Not Your Blog
  6. A cute little diagram about just who your Facebook Friends are.

About that cool illustration up top: I was able to find that great graphic on Salvatore Vuono’s portfolio page.  Great stuff there. I think I’ll come back often for some artwork to gussy up this here blog.

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3 responses to “Fraying Attention

  1. Thank u for sharing the resources I work I marketing and found it really interesting.

  2. You’re quite welcome. I’m still on the fence w/r/t G+. Haven’t felt the need to jumb back into the pool. Interesting that I just saw an article today that people are getting “circle fatigue.” 😉

  3. Pingback: A Patchwork Jumble Retrospective – 2011 | Patchwork Jumble

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