Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

How To Pay Attention 20 Ways To Win The War Against Seeing

Medium – Rob Walker: “As part of a short class for the School of Visual Arts’ newish Products of Design MFA program, I ask students to “practice paying attention” before our next meeting. There are no other parameters for this assignment, which students have a week to complete. Perhaps obviously, the idea is largely to see how they will resolve this overtly vague request. The class is called Point of View, and this assignment is a minor component, loosely tied to the process around a more significant project. I certainly believe that having an original, legitimate and honest point of view (for a designer or anybody else) involves cultivating the ability to see what others overlook. But the truth is that I include this assignment because it simply gets at a hobbyhorse of mine: our world has become an attention battleground. From looming billboards to glittering shop windows to the myriad distractions flowing through the pocket-sized screens we carry everywhere, vast and sophisticated efforts prod us to look in specific directions, at specific things, in specific ways. Taken together, they add up to a kind of war against seeing. I try to be part of the resistance. In fact, as a result of the class, I started to make an informal list of “how to pay attention” strategies — my own, those that students suggested, and others that I’ve read about or otherwise encountered here and there. To my delight, this list grew into something more than I’d anticipated, and started to take on the feel of something between a set of New Year’s resolutions, and a manifesto. Finally I decided that it seemed worth, as they say, sharing…”

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.