The Cost of Paying Attention –

A few years ago, in a supermarket, I swiped my bank card to pay for groceries. I watched the little screen, waiting for its prompts. During the intervals between swiping my card, confirming the amount and entering my PIN, I was shown advertisements. Clearly some genius had realized that a person in this situation is a captive audience.

Attention is a resource; a person has only so much of it. And yet we’ve auctioned off more and more of our public space to private commercial interests, with their constant demands on us to look at the products on display or simply absorb some bit of corporate messaging. Lately, our self-appointed disrupters have opened up a new frontier of capitalism, complete with its own frontier ethic: to boldly dig up and monetize every bit of private head space by appropriating our collective attention. In the process, we’ve sacrificed silence — the condition of not being addressed. And just as clean air makes it possible to breathe, silence makes it possible to think.

What if we saw attention in the same way that we saw air or water, as a valuable resource that we hold in common? Perhaps, if we could envision an “attentional commons,” then we could figure out how to protect it.

via The Cost of Paying Attention –

Why Brazil Is Actually Winning The Internet – BuzzFeed

In 2004, the same year Facebook launched at Harvard, Google launched a social network called Orkut that changed internet history — at least in Brazil.

John Perry Barlow, founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, was one of the first of the web’s elite digerati to receive an invitation. Barlow was working at the time with Brazil’s minister of culture, musician Gilberto Gil, to expand the range of Brazilian music available to remix and share online, and he decided to give all 100 of his invites to Brazilian friends. Two years later, 11 million Brazilians were on Orkut — out of only 14 million internet users in the whole country. By comparison, the U.S. had more than 10 times as many Americans online by then, but only 14% of them were using social networks.

“There were blogs and portals back then,” says Bia Granja, co-founder of YouPix, a website and festival dedicated to celebrating Brazilian web culture. “But when Orkut came, it pulled everyone in. There were people from rural parts of Brazil who didn’t have an official government ID card but had an Orkut profile. We needed this form of expression; it was the door of entry to the internet for 82% of Brazil’s population.”

via Why Brazil Is Actually Winning The Internet.

I Sent All My Text Messages in Calligraphy for a Week – Atlantic Mobile

I decided to blend a newfound interest in calligraphy with my lifelong passion for written correspondence to create a new kind of text messaging. The idea: I wanted to message friends using calligraphic texts for one week.

Reading: The Struggle by Tim Parks | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books

The conditions in which we read today are not those of fifty or even thirty years ago, and the big question is how contemporary fiction will adapt to these changes, because in the end adapt it will. No art form exists independently of the conditions in which it is enjoyed.

What I’m talking about is the state of constant distraction we live in and how that affects the very special energies required for tackling a substantial work of fiction.

The death of photography: are camera phones destroying an artform? | Art and design | The Guardian

From presidential selfies to never-ending Instagram feeds, the world is now drowning in images. Celebrated photographers debate the impact of this mass democratisation on their craft

via The death of photography: are camera phones destroying an artform? | Art and design | The Guardian.

All Can Be Lost: The Risk of Putting Our Knowledge in the Hands of Machines – Nicholas Carr – The Atlantic

We rely on computers to fly our planes, find our cancers, design our buildings, audit our businesses. That\’s all well and good. But what happens when the computer fails?

via All Can Be Lost: The Risk of Putting Our Knowledge in the Hands of Machines – Nicholas Carr – The Atlantic.

How Not to Be Alone –

A COUPLE of weeks ago, I saw a stranger crying in public. I was in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood, waiting to meet a friend for breakfast. I arrived at the restaurant a few minutes early and was sitting on the bench outside, scrolling through my contact list. A girl, maybe 15 years old, was sitting on the bench opposite me, crying into her phone. I heard her say, “I know, I know, I know” over and over.

What did she know? Had she done something wrong? Was she being comforted? And then she said, “Mama, I know,” and the tears came harder.

via How Not to Be Alone –