Exo-attention: Threats and Benefits

Humankind has developed by externalizing the capacity to cut, throw, run, remember, compute. At the beginning of the third millennium, it is attention itself that is being externalized. Digital apparatuses provide us with an “exo-attention” comparable to the exo-skeleton that helps workers carry super-human weights. Will our individual attention shrink as a consequence, as our individual capacity to remember shrank due to the wide availability of printed writings? Will our collective attention gain new powers? Is exo-attention really as new as it sounds? This talk will focus on three main issues: exo-attention’s dependence on electricity, the reconfiguring of the four levels of attentionscapes (individual, joint, organizational, collective) and the reconfiguring of the temporal horizons at each of these levels.

Yves Citton is professor of French Literature at the Université de Grenoble Alpes. He is a member of the research team LITT&ARTS CNRS 5316, and the co-editor of the journal Multitudes. He recently published The Ecology of Attention (Cambridge, Polity Press: 2016, translation of Pour une écologie de l’attention (Paris, Le Seuil: 2014), and will publish a new book entitled Médiarchie (Paris, Le Seuil: September 2017).