Friday, January 17, 2014

The digital literacy of controlling attention and focus

As I am about to embark on some serious study I have been thinking a lot about enhancing the small amounts of time I do get to spare on reading and scholarship.
Apart from sheer 'interest/motivation' as a dominant factor in directing attention, with more than a nod to Prof Goodyear, there is more to books than mere nostalgia and aesthetics, there is ergonomics. A book will not bleep or blink at me. Taking the fight to the technology, so often the source of distractions, if it's a 'digital book', it may even read with me. I have been recently interested in the idea that getting the computer to read aloud as I read the text may help attention, engagement and cognition. What do you/others think? Am struggling to locate research about it... along the lines of Driver and Noesselt 2008.
This new paper in JC-MC by Courbet et al is heading in the right direction before concentrating on advertising:
Faced with an abundance of advertising messages, Internet users occupied with their current task activate selective perception and processing strategies that lead them to allocate only minimal cognitive resources to advertising, which generally interests them very little.  (p274)
In psychology, we have the concept of flow, a phenomenon studied by Csikszentmihalyi in artists who were so immersed in their work that they ignored bodily needs for food or sleep. Flow is one of a range of psychological states, see the image below (souce: wikimedia commons), indicating the strong links with this 'ideal' state and motivation. Sadly, students are often faced with learning episodes that do anything but encourage flow.

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