Daily Gleanings: Attention (1 July 2019)

The Dropbox blog discusses Jenny Odell’s How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy (Melville House, 2019).

Not surprisingly, several comments in the essay have ready application to how biblical scholars relate to the attention economy. Among these are:

Actively choosing how you wield your attention is a modern-day survival skill. This is resisting the attention economy. It’s a refusal to allow the act of consumption consume your life.

Life through the filter of Instagram [or blog or Twitter posts] strips away everything that falls outside of the frame.… What you’re left with is “a product—the clean, finished version of all of these processes that are often hidden. Then the same thing happens with a person or a life, where you get these product-like moments in someone’s life. And that product is accentuated by the fact that it’s then evaluated in real time—almost like customer reviews of it.”

When we’re aware [of the forces at play in the attention economy], we don’t have to be controlled by anyone else’s idea of who we are, and there is a freedom in that. We are not our data points.

Much of the essay reminds me of the attention-renewing discipline Cal Newport describes around being able to be bored well rather than training ourselves to be constantly filling the small in-between spaces in life with consuming digital content. On this, see Deep Work, pp. 155–80.

For the full essay about Odell’s book, see the Dropbox blog.


The Freedom blog discusses the values of time tracking tools, including increased awareness, attention, accountability, and perhaps additional time.

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