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The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age

Foreword by Bill McKibben

We have oceans of information at our fingertips, yet we seek knowledge in Yahoo headlines glimpsed on the run. We are networked as never before, but we connect with friends and family via email and fleeting face-to-face moments that are rescheduled a dozen times. Welcome to the land of distraction.

Day by day, we are eroding our capacity for deep attention— the building block of intimacy, wisdom and cultural progress. The implications for a healthy society are stark. And yet we can recover our powers of focus. Neuroscience is decoding the workings of attention, with its three pillars of focus, awareness and judgment, and revealing how these skills can be shaped and taught. This is exciting news for all of us living in an age of overload.

In her sweeping quest to unravel the nature of attention and detail its losses, Maggie Jackson offers a compelling wake-up call, an adventure story, and reasons for hope.

From the preface

“This book, remarkably impressive both for its wealth of detail and the clarity of its synthesis, forces our attention on [our] inattention. And in so doing, it asks us implicitly the uncomfortable question about what our lives are for. Are they measured in busyness, the accomplishment of many and random tasks? Or do they require some kind of artful arc to be whole? Writing powerfully and subversively, Maggie Jackson raises issues that go straight to the core of what it means to be human in the early twenty-first century, questions that we need to think about clearly, slowly, deeply…”

Acclaim for Distracted

  • “Distracted concentrates the mind on a real problem of modern life.”

    The Wall Street Journal

  • "Influential"

    — The New Yorker

  • "A prize-winning columnist for the Boston Globe provides a timely and often horrifying look at our technology-addled lives today."

    Editor’s Pick, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

  • "An original treatment of an important subject. [Jackson's] message bears particular relevance to parents and teachers, who hold the power to help shape the attitudes of younger generations."

    Christian Science Monitor

  • "A richly detailed and passionately argued... account of the travails facing an ADD society and how to reinvigorate a 'renaissance of attention.'"

    Publishers Weekly

  • "Timely and welcome ... Anyone who cares about the future of society should give Distracted some much deserved time and focus."

    Matt Curtin, founder of Interhack Corp., writing in Ergo

Related Articles by Maggie Jackson

Related Interviews

  • — "An Emerging Culture of Attention,” an interview with Maggie by Andrea Saveri
  • Diane Rehm Show — Appearance on NPR's Diane Rehm Show, Washington, D.C.

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