Ben emailed me to ask me something about the provenance of some of my Discreet Computing stuff, which led me to thinking (although I don’t think I’ve answered his question yet):
“There’s probably a riff to be done on how current tech burns away attention because of some link with the conspicuously consumptive assumptions of the business world — damn it I have 10,000 people in back offices staring at screens, and my machines are sucking the attention of that many minds, therefore I must be successful…”
In fact that might be the way in — computers (used the way we generally do, their incarnation as Big Beige Boxes) are the way we throw away attention which would otherwise have to be constructively expended.
I insist on the fact that there is generally no growth but only a luxurious squandering of energy in every form! The history of life on earth is mainly the effect of a wild exuberance; the dominant event is the development of luxury, the production of increasingly burdensome forms of life.
George Bataille, The Accursed Share Vol. 1
…so maybe the attentional suction we build into our tech is just our way of throwing our lives away, when we would be otherwise encountering some newly liberated way of being… well anyway, it’s a thought, and maybe at the root of why there is an economics of attention.”
Possibly this also touches on Tim’s question about why groupware is so depressing. Maybe it has to be, to properly consume attention.