Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Pay Attention to This One!
They keep saying that business is becoming a science, but they’ve got it backwards. Science is becoming a business. If by business one means a method of making money for both the managers and investors; a way which involves continued self-justification and enhancement. When I worked for an ad agency (back in the Dark Ages), one job was to continue to find new uses for the products we advertised - new ways to make them irresistable. It’s taken science a while, but I think it’s gotten there. I read a NY Times article today quoting someone who apparently is “a leader in the new field of interruption science.” And of course, that person has written a book which they hope will make a lot of money. Interruption Science? Excuse me?? Well, any culture that accepts “shopping therapy” and “massage technicians” is unlikely to notice the corruption of the scientific method by slicing it into ever-thinner specialities, each of which seem licensed to a particular company which of course has perfected some product to make life more complete… you sense cynicism? Okay, read on.
From the NYT article: “The first step is to learn to speak a language of attention.” Oh, yes, that is exactly what we need - a new cacaphony of jargon by which to impress the consumers - ah, public. Ohmygawd… This humble wordsmith strongly suspects this is the science equivalent of the advertising slogan or jingle -- once we have you talking our language, you’re putty in our hands.
“The exciting news is that the enigma of attention has just begun to be mapped, tracked and decoded by neuroscientists who now consider attention to be a trio of skills: focus, awareness and so-called executive attention.” Divide and conquer (government had that one figured out years ago)… take apart the process and attach labels, much like the information technology field has sliced and diced clerical processes so that the poor secretary (oh, sorry - administrative infomatics specialist!) is afraid to move from “input validation” to “data reiteration and consolidation” without checking and rechecking the flowchart. And everyone knows executives never pay attention - that’s what they have slaves - er, secretaries - er, administrative specialists - for.
Another NYT piece on ADD mentions it feeling “like having a bank of tvs in my mind and I don’t have the remote” - which could be why I don’t have an actual tv in the house - it would be superfluous. The gist of the piece is that we are all in danger of losing our minds to distraction. As someone who has had Attention Deficient Disorder all her life, I say, “Welcome to my world.” I’ve always strongly suspected that the Musak slyly introduced, first in elevators and then throughout every public building and store (sometimes a different damn song in each department!) was a ploy to soften our brains with distraction, such that we didn’t actual notice how much we were buying.
Except now with cloned stores full of cloned products, I'm having a hard time tracking which store I'm in. And we've gone from being occasionally interrupted to be brought a Special Media Bulletin to having the pixelated equivalent of a gaggle of teen girls chattering at us on every web page, every text page, and sometimes even in public bathrooms! (The teen girls are there all the time -- the advertising posters and flat-screen tvs are the newcomers.)Move over, Ring Around the Collar, Housitosis, and Feminine Itch. Now that they've given us Distraction, they're gonna make us pay to get rid of it.