…in an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently.
Herbert Simon, Nobel Prize Laureate
From the Renaissance to 1900, human knowledge has doubled every century; by World War II, a doubling only took 25 years. In 2006, IBM estimated that by 2010 the world’s knowledge would double every 11 hours (pdf). All this information, and similar increases in communication, have created unprecedented challenges for our brains. Overwhelmed and distracted, days pass in a blur of frenetic and relatively mindless activity; relationships get crunched into snatched moments before the screens suck us back. Our most valuable and scarce resource is no longer time—it’s attention…
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