A New Theory of Distraction by Joshua Rothman, a book review of “The World Beyond Your Head: Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction” by Matthew Crawford. Two snippets (do read the whole thing):
Distraction is a way of asserting control; it’s autonomy run amok.
We should grow more comfortable with our unfocussed selves, and, instead of repudiating them, reclaim them.
I have to wonder the extent (probably small, but maybe non-negligible) extent to which intellectual property contributes to the “highly engineered environment” in which the addictive “ironic freedom” of distraction that feels like action both disrupts the flow of both work and wandering. How would IP contribute? By increasing the rewards for creating addictive material and for sopping up all available attention.
The review and presumably the book focuses on the individual, but I wonder if there is a legitimate analogous analysis for society. A never ending series of mega events, news stories, and blockbusters seem like bad distractions from both progress and joy and a society-wide level. At least some of those mega distractions (which generate billions of individual distractions) would be much smaller without IP.
Further, distraction from autonomous thought of either purposeful or idle kinds, is something that broad conceptions of intellectual freedom must grapple with.
First post in the on topic category.