Artist Jenny Odell explains why place is the antidote to the attention economy

Artist and artist Jenny Odell, who grew up in Cupertino and now lives in Oakland, believes it is important that she has not left the Bay area. Odell, who also teaches at Stanford University

Many writers have been alarmed by the increasingly fractured interest, but O'Dell's book is not about the Internet. Do not block or retreat from Facebook Odell focuses on the importance of getting attention and focus, but tells people what to do when they are not looking at Facebook. Learn the name, history of this area, and the song of the birds.

The Verge told O'Dell about the importance of the place, the role of the technology that grounds us, and the various types of it.

Your book is interesting because I have set up a "place" for the answer to the economy of interest, but because of the specific location. I grew up in the Bay area near Cupertino, but I left as soon as possible.


artist jenny odell explains why place is the antidote to the attention economy

Photo: Ryan Meyer

I know people for a long time and value people in the community. When I belong to a group of artists or writers, I know that you and your work are well known It is really good to have a supported community.

The interesting thing about this book is that instead of floating in this senseless Internet environment That's why it's important to know that you are from, and there's a basis. Did the idea – place vs. internet – start to cross for you?

Some of the natural consequences of my lifetime realizing that I do not really know what kind of thing I am actually acquainted with, really fascinated and taken. This sounds really weird. However, I took urban studies classes at the university and read some information about the suburbs. I read the type of urbanization in Cupertino. And I went home. And I was like, "Oh my God, I have a vocabulary for this now!" When I was growing up, the phenomenon of entering and occupying McMansions was just given. My family I will talk but I did not really think. I came back a few years back and said, "This is the result of such a zoning." And I saw that it was not part of a larger context.

That sort of thing is common. Especially since 2016, I have been sitting in a rose garden and wondering why it was worth it. Part of the answer is, "Oh, I am here, I am in one place, I can pay attention to it." It has a grounding quality.

It seems that the body claims to be "real" than online. Over the past few years, I have felt the importance of "true" online connections such as "It was the same with online friendships!" How can you refine this idea?

Well, I do not actually agree with that argument. One of the things I'm talking about at the end of the book is how social media could be useful. It connects people in the same place, is very fast, and can share knowledge very easily. My mind can be especially useful when mixed with things like face-to-face meetings or more intentional communication. Even group chatting is closer to meeting me directly. So there is a way that digital and physical functions work together.

I want to collect examples of places and situations where there is no overlap between physical experience and digital representation, but no reverberation. In one of my lessons, we talk about where digital and physical interactions can be seen everywhere. My example is this mountain in Fremont – Mission Peak. And at one time, it was very popular to take pictures at the top of this pillar at the top of the mountain. And now everyone needs to have that picture. So all of these people started climbing up the mountain and leaving the designated route. And in my mind, the mountain is eroded by Instagram.

Apps to help identify and identify animals and plants Describes how to use iNaturalist . At some point, the student says that it is "you take" from experience and says it is not. How can we appreciate how technology is getting closer and closer to us?


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As an artist and interested person, I am a part of the use of technology to provide more information about what you are seeing. So one of my examples is just binoculars. A pair of binoculars is a form of technology and can be said to have "unnatural" visibility through a pair of binoculars. Because binoculars complement human vision. But if I leave without binoculars, I do not see much. Otherwise I can not have curiosity. It gives me literally a new place experience. I really care about those things. iNaturalist is an easy example, and the other is an app that identifies constellations.

One of the most exciting parts of the book for me is when critics say that interest is a structural issue, and it is the responsibility of the technology company to turn it in an ethical direction. It is our view that we often hear, but because our company attracts our attention, it is depriving us of our agency and ability to decide what we want to see.

One important aspect in which the economy of interest is considered to be important in any form is to assume that interest is like a currency, regardless of whether it is attracted or authorized. Most calls are standardized. We no longer barter, so we rely on the idea of ​​standardized consistency and consistency. And in my experience, interest does not get that better. You have a form of shallow attention, you really have a deep interest, you pay different kind of attention to other things in different situations.

Differentiation and proliferation of attention is what I can learn. This is one of the reasons I talk a lot about art in this chapter. The dimension of attention and human perception is missing from the formula for me.

I think many people will like your book. Because it is not the draconic enemy, we will not forever drop our account and run away into the forest. Could you explain in more detail why you advocate a more moderate approach?

The first reason is that it is impossible. Maybe there is a hermit in the mountain to prove me wrong, but it is impossible for most of us. Registering that impulse is really interesting and important. This is almost routine now, but at the level of actual likelihood it is probably not your job to do. But if you buy a book on it, you ultimately are interested in something. Many anxieties exploited by the economy of interest stem from a very practical feeling of life. It's easy to feel something useful or useful in times of difficulty. I think it will eventually catch up with most people. Maybe I am just extrapolating myself, but I assume that someone who is sufficiently anxious about what is happening to buy a book ultimately wants to say something meaningful at the end of the day.

The book How to Do Nothing clearly tries to talk about the virtues that still exist. However, as mentioned, there are various kinds of stops. When I read it, choreographer George Balanchine said that there were two types of quiet : I could not stop thinking that the cat sitting there could be distinguished from the cat sitting there. What kind of static does you support?

I really like it. I will probably be both the same. What I thought more after I wrote a book is that it moves into another state of mind in your mind. It feels like an exercise or a sort of change, and ideally you can do it with will and intention rather than sleeping around and always staying in a shallow state of attention.

So it is important to know when to take a break, and it is also important to know when you are in a second standstill, wisely observing the situation from the outside. They are certainly not the same, and both are really needed. Without some kind of practical rest, perhaps the other is not possible. You are not a sharp person.

The last question I have is about maintenance. We insist that we care about new things too much and are destructive instead of keeping things there. What happens if I focus on maintenance instead of "collapse"?

I was inspired by a local group in Auckland to take responsibility for local creek or habitat restoration work. A group that feels a sense of responsibility for something that lives together and observes the amount of work that goes into it. There is, of course, an uncertain environment in which someone can find an entry point. I already have this fixation as I think about what is there. So the first step is to look at what is already "You need to create XYZ."

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