For those who enjoyed the book (which I haven’t read yet!) I deeply enjoyed this conversation between Jenny Odell and Ezra Klein, two very smart and lovely people: https://www.vox.com/ezra-klein-show-podcast/2019/5/23/18636332/jenny-odell-how-to-do-nothing
They keep coming back to a phrase from (lovely writer/designer/artist in her own right!) Sara Hendren of artists as “orchestrators of attention.” Odell gives an example of a fellow artist who organized a “performance” of watching the sunset. After the sun set, the audience broke out in applause.
This also relates to her description of the “context collapse” on social media. Algorithmic feeds optimize for engagement item by item, but fail to meaningfully curate items together in a way that feels intentional or temporally and narratively coherent. Feeds are poor quality (if addicting) orchestrators of our attention. The result leaves us disoriented. She also talked about this in an excerpt I read in The Paris Review:
Context also helps establish the order of events. Obviously, the bits of information we’re assailed with on Twitter and Facebook feeds are missing both of these kinds of context. Scrolling through the feed, I can’t help but wonder: What am I supposed to think of all this? How am I supposed to think of all this? I imagine different parts of my brain lighting up in a pattern that doesn’t make sense, that forecloses any possible understanding. Many things in there seem important, but the sum total is nonsense, and it produces not understanding but a dull and stupefying dread.
My biggest personal takeway from what I’ve read and heard from her so far is the importance of seeking out meaningful communities for yourself, where you’re not shouting into an abstract group of disparate connections and hoping for the best, but instead “saying the right things to the right people at the right time.” To people who are engaged in collaborating toward common goals.