Having trouble reading this email? View it in your browser.

Wesleyan University | Center for the Humanities



Attention by Design: Course Corrections for Wandering Minds

Natasha Schüll • New York University 

September 19th @ 6pm via Zoom (https://wesleyan.zoom.us/j/99404313057)

A strong social consensus has formed around the association between digital technology and toxic psychological effects, with a notable emphasis on themes of distraction, addiction, and exhaustion. Although digital technologies might extend human communicational range, expand experiential horizons, and afford new modes of self-expression, their intensified temporalities and relentless demands for sensory and cognitive engagement pull us into coercive loops of escape and self-forgetting and exhaust our capacity to resist. Yet a new crop of digital technologies that have sprung up in the wake of their more toxic kin, promising to help beleaguered humans guard against, counteract, or “detox” from the latter. These attention-protecting, attention-boosting, attention-enabling technologies run the gamut from smart timers and notification filters to distraction-reducing computer software and course-correcting wearable devices. What might we learn about the possibilities and limits of attention today by examining the design of attention-supporting technologies? This talk seeks clues in three contemporary technologies: the Muse headset, AttentiveU glasses, and the FeelZing patch. According to what conception of attention does each device operate? How do its designers configure the attentional interventions it makes? What kind of attentional subjects do its features and functions address, enable, and, perhaps, bring into being?  Their respective formulae for attentional management, considered together and in contrast, reveal tensions and fissures in the dominant attentional logics of the day and suggest alternative futures for attention modulation. 

Pay Attention!
View Fall 2022 Lecture List

Center for the Humanities · 95 Pearl Street, Middletown, CT 06459

Center for the Humanities on Facebook  Center for the Humanities on Twitter

Wesleyan Logo