A poverty of attention

Nobel Prize winner Herbert Simon:

“In an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. 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.”

And he said this in the 1970s, long before the internet.

There is more information available now than ever before in human history. This is uncharted territory.

Is our attention strained and scattered more than ever before? Mine is. My hunger for information seems insatiable. But my ability to focus on one thing, or one person, for a meaningful amount of time has gotten more fragile.

Paying attention — deep, focused attention — has become a kind of superpower. That’s the muscle I need to be trying to strengthen.

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