Thursday, October 12, 2017

From "The Clickbait Candidate" by James Williams

From "The Clickbait Candidate" by James Williams:

A better name for ‘social media’ would be ‘impulsive media.’ The unprecedented abundance and instantaneity of information in the digital era has turned our world into a never-ending flow of novel attentional rewards. Yet transcending these limits of space and time — moving from information scarcity to abundance — does not mean our informational world has become limitless: it is still limited by our capacity to navigate it. Thus, we have now become the main limits; the constraints of our psychology now play the defining roles. A major implication of this is that we now spend much more of our finite willpower to maintain our previous levels of self-regulation. Too often, though, we find that we don’t have enough willpower saved up to spend to avoid distraction.

In the brave new cognitive world that results, then, innumerable packets of information come screaming across the sky (to remix Pynchon’s phrase) — all our candidates, comedians, memes, meeting notes, native advertisements, love letters, likes, posts, product placements, poems, exhortations, titillations, and cats — all competing on the same instant playing field, whose center is everywhere and boundary is nowhere, for the grand prize of our attention. And whichever one is best at pushing our buttons will win. We have many buttons."

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