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January 2019    Dennis R. DuBe'     719/3149

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1. The Call To Attention eh?
      This new matrix creates a state of constant attention.
          Dennis DuBe' #3149   Created 07/19/2012   Updated 06/19/2020

How does the virtual impact the real world?

[ This new matrix creates a state of constant attention. ]

The hole in your hand is in your head.

We were in a tough discussion, one that had been hard to get started. We first interrupted ourselves with the diversions of real life, wandered through football and politics and the weather before turning to face the subject at hand -- and the phone rang. Somebody's phone, beeping, tinkling, singing a song to identify the caller, or burping to announce a text, and one pair of eyes went down to the palm of the hand, the attention commanded by the ether.

The urgency of attention commanded by the device. We realized, after soaking the thought in a round-robin of sentences, that a paradigm had been inverted. In the "Before Time", when families gathered in the living room before the flickering black and white TV, media was something that offered and enticed and stretched to attract an audience. Flashing lights, loud noises, and enthusiastic exhortations accompany urgings to give our attention to a particular show, series, product, or other news. Choosing to watch any one item ruled out the others, so audiences were competitively wooed, enticed, and persuaded to make content-based consumption choices.

Today, your purse buzzes, your jacket pocket launches into song, or the little box on the table glows to life and emits unpleasant noises until you slap it, just like your alarm clock, and give it your attention. We daily witness the spectacle of people twitching and jumping at the bidding of their devices, engaging in automatic responses to electronic signals, instantly burrowing their attention into a glowing screen. They jump into a metaphorical tunnel that connects them to friends and family and associates, that helps them engage with businesses and information and schedules. They fall into a stream of content, each piece possibly coming from someone they know and having a personal significance.

They swim in the stream to discover the truth of all rivers; that you can't stop the water. The water will flow, whether you are there to see it, or not. And if you are not there, by the river, then a lot of things about the river will pass you by.

Meanwhile, back in the meeting room, everyone else in conversation is also looking at the hand with the hole in it, hanging on to the thread of a suspended agenda. The device's command, and the subsequent shift in the user's attention, exemplifies the intrusion of cyberspace into the 'real' world.* The device serves as the local agent for an external media distribution, which only becomes effective upon receiving the user's attention. The user may or may not have authorized the distribution directly, but the devices are commonly configured to notify the user upon message or connection arrival.

An interesting aspect is the call to attention. The older media formula was to fashion attractive content in order to attract an audience actively engaged in flipping channels (pages, stations, etc.), and then expose the audience to commercial messages.

The new media features a three-dimensional matrix of passive and active content, which engages the user's attention for substantial periods of time every day. The user moves into a constant state of attention among a variety of published and social media, and becomes engaged in an active stream of two-way communications with others through the news, commercial, and social media interfaces.

This new matrix creates a state of constant attention.


*[author's note: 'real' is highlighted to note the hilarity of assuming that any one's view of the world could be considered more 'real' than that of others.]

**[author's other note: except mine, of course.]



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