The Attention Span Myth

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Week #8

Title: In this post, I’ll be commenting on an article from http://www.nytimes.com called “The Attention Span Myth” by Virginia Heffernan

Comments: I thought this article was really interesting, though slanted at points. The topic is interesting to me mainly because I’ve heard this issue argued again and again amongst teachers, parents, doctors, and anybody else with an opinion as well. Though I’d heard many people talk about it, I’ve never heard a good, solid argument for the more rapid attention span outside of this article. It put it into a new perspective I’d never thought of before. Before reading this article I generally believed in the general argument that a shorter attention span is worse than a longer one, and that our society has been causing our attention span as a whole to decrease. The article doesn’t deny this, but instead argues that it’s a good thing rather than a bad thing. Whether I believe it or not isn’t quite as important as a doctor or a mother, however.

As a new media student, this is important to pay attention to (no pun intended) because of the way modern media is created to tailor to this shorter attention span of its audience. Political speeches that used to be hours long are now no longer than 45 minutes at the maximum. Commercials are thirty seconds or less, and movies cut their scenes to such short segments that often those used to older films are disoriented from the constant change in angle. As I go into a field that is involved in all of these media, I need to be aware of what my audience will be looking for and how long they will pay attention to what I’m showing them. This is why articles like these are so important.

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