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BLOG ENTRY 5 infotention

April 3, 2012

The concept of decreasing attention in response to increasing information is very much a reality in the world of media and marketing. As journalism, PR and advertising students we are constantly taught to summarise information to the very core and only publish the most engaging information. If we fail to do so, we are penalised and this results in a poor mark for our submitted assignment. The reason that markers do this is because we as media students must learn the harsh realities of our audiences. Our audiences are human beings. Human beings have the natural tendency to reduce levels of attention when they are forced to pay attention to information or when they are overwhelmed with an overload of information.  When it comes to media and especially advertising in the media, almost all types of publics prefer to be presented with a clear and concise form of information. This is why television commercials work so well, all the information is presented in hearing and visual form. In advertising, the information being marketed must be presented or even manipulated in such a way that will somehow reach out to what the broad public would find interesting and at the same time market the product in a nutshell.

The most relatable example I can find for this is a student sitting in front of a television screen on the couch, whilst also attempting to do their assignment on their laptop which sits on their lap. The television is set on ‘V’ a music channel which is endlessly playing the top 100 hot hits. In contrast, their laptop displays pages and pages of readings required for next week’s class. Naturally, if the student is interested in music their attention is more likely to focus or be distracted by the music video playing in the background. The pages of size 10 font on their laptop screen are likely to lose the battle that fights for his/her attention. This is because music as opposed to academic writing takes no effort to think about and concentrate.

On another note, the key to using our time wisely and paying attention to the right things is put quite interestingly by Erard as he says, “savvy allocator of your attentional resources”. This phrase is quite appropriate for the technologically savvy generation Y as we live in the information technology age and must learn to keep up with the intricacies of technology in order to keep up with the rat race. In contrast with short attention spans and laziness to acquire mass amounts of information, the technology generation has found numerous sources for their limited attention before they hit the sack. Multi-tasking or “Continuous partial attention” as Linda Stone puts it, is one of the generations most recognised traits. As she observes a student she describes, “[…] asking their brains to attend to four I.M. conversations, a partially completed paper, a news website, a text message coming in on the cell phone and a conversation with the person sitting next to them.” From this we can see that human attention especially of the more recent generations are willing to listen and pay attention but only to the things that matter to them. By recognising this, we have a major lead on how to approach our publics.

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