Are You Paying Attention?

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Technology has evolved at an unprecedented rate, which has given a lot of freedom to the public to communicated, be connected and entertain themselves at the slide of a button into a smart phone. The mobile phone is now multiple devices in one which means that jobs that would normally require a computer or perhaps another tool can be done with internet, gps and mobile signal.

With this amazing new possibility, and portability of most tasks in daily life, our attention span to commit to one singular media event can be hindered, as the interest tends to wander due to the vast majority of entertainment options easily and swiftly accessable to the individual via their phone.

“A recent study by Microsoft Corporation has found this digital lifestyle has made it difficult for us to stay focused, with the human attention span shortening from 12 seconds to eight seconds in more than a decade.” (Medical Daily, 2015) It seems the way of the technological trajectory that less is desired and consdiered more valuable. Take Twitter for example, we’re restricted to 140 characters or less which means people only want to read the headline and if doesn’t grab the attention in that amount of time then it often gets ignored.

“Heavy multi-screeners find it difficult to filter out irrelevant stimuli — they’re more easily distracted by multiple streams of media”

This framework from ‘Microsoft Canada(s): Attention Spans Research Report 2015’  breaks down the attention we give can be broken into 3 sections, thus;

attetnion-span-framework

The above info-graphic was something I used in order to plan my attention span activity. With these three ideas, I set up a space that included all the media devices I had in my possession and recorded the area when it become populated with people. I wanted to see how much attention is given to particular devices, and which devices lasted the longest. As an added feature of this activity, I’ve chosen my un-technological minded mum, Justine, (who helped with the TV spaces interview) as a reflection and extension of the findings from her childhood opposed to her viewing now. My sister, Nikita, was also present with this experiment who is 19 years old. The two allowed for a demographic change as they’re both from rural areas, with TV a major source of entertainment by location.

I decided to film this test in 360 degree video, as a proactive showcase of how technology has evolved so much that now the viewer can control what parts of the space they want to watch. Perhaps leave a comment below on how much you played around with the click and drag feature of 360 video, how much your attention wandered and which parts were more fascinating.

It was interesting to not that throughout the video, devices that weren’t particularly familiar to the subjects, weren’t given a lot of attention to none at all! This was reflective of how our attention span is on the decline, if we can’t focus and figure out hardware (and sometimes software) nowadays, they don’t last long in a consumer market. There was also a generational shift with my sister (19) gave things more of a “trial”, such as the mini Nano Drone, whereas Mum (43) didn’t want to break anything.

[Individuals within this video gave full consent to have themselves published on my university blog as well as YouTube] 

**note: screenshots were used until the 360 degree software was fixed…it currently has issues converting file metedata.

Subjects interacting with various devices

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L, Borreli 2015, Human Attention Span Shortens to 8 Seconds Due to Digital Technologies: 3 Ways to Stay Focused, Medical Daily, viewed 26th September, <http://www.medicaldaily.com/human-attention-span-shortens-8-seconds-due-digital-technology-3-ways-stay-focused-333474&gt;

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