Week 6 – Infotention

The word “Infotention” is a crucial concept for publishing. According to ‘Howard Rheingold’, infotention implies a mind-machine combination of brain-powered attention skills and computer-powered information filters. The inside and outside of infotention work best together with a third element which is sociality (Rheingold, H, 2009).

Here is a non-interactive representation of the infotention cmap:

The theory reveals the interdependent relationship between attraction and distraction. Nowadays, we are crammed with the free flow of information, publications and ideas. This is what makes our attraction very scarce as information is highly accessible. The same goes for distraction, for example, without an advertisement on the television that informs me about the latest release of iPad by Apple, my attention would not have been taken from what I was doing. Both attraction and distraction cannot survive without each other’s existence.

The idea suggests users to undergo attention discipline and part technical skill, to protect ourselves from information overload. According to Howard Rheingold’s video, ‘Part One’ and ‘Part Two’, they are introducing the mental and technical aspects of information dashboards, radars, and filters, also, shows how to build an information dashboard.

Part two of the video includes using RSS reader to personalize the sources of information, Netvibes to organize your own way of consuming news.

Furthermore, it is also recommended that users start at an early stage to restrict a certain amount of information to our inboxes, in which he calls it “network literacy”. Not only this, is a wise and less time-consuming way for readers, also a better way for advertisers to promote to their target groups. This can be referred from the video “Network Literacy Part One” where Rheingold discusses about the way structure and dynamics of networks influences political freedom, economic wealth creation, and participation in the creation of culture.

In addition, with the underlying technical architecture of the Internet, the freedom to innovation is largely facilitated. This results in the assemblages of attention in publishing. When investigating the assemblages, it is important to examine its commons: The stakeholders of information, personal, state-owned, public and corporate data.

Undoubtedly, data is collectively owned and produced by internet users, this further leads to a redistribution of attention in publishing. The implications of the digital commons are that more opinions are circulated, freedom of speech is more supported, and different kinds of public, such as, private and public, get to come collaborate and result in social consequences.

In conclusion, the relationships between publishing, attention and social collectivity are intertwined. Publishing attracts and distracts attention at the same time; while attention is able to be attracted and distracted deliberately and voluntarily by infotention; while social collectivity can be both a result and a stimulant to publish and attract attention.


Rheingold, Howard (2009) ‘Mindful Infotention: Dashboards, Radars, Filters’, SFGate,<http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/rheingold/detail?entry_id=46677>, accessed 29 March

Rheingold, Howard (2011) ‘Infotention Part One’, YouTube, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAdOQCgwi2c&feature=relmfu>, accessed 29 March

Rheingold, Howard (2011) ‘Infotention Part Two’, YouTube, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOLXZkJa2xE&feature=relmfu>, accessed 29 March 2012

Rheingold, Howard (2011) ‘Network Literacy Part One’, YouTube, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6UKWozzVRM&feature=relmfu>, accessed 29 March 2012

O’Malley, Mike (2010) ‘Attention and Information’ The Aporetic, <http://theaporetic.com/?p=228>

Boyd, Stowe (2010) ‘The False Question of Attention Economics’, Stowe Boyd, <http://www.stoweboyd.com/post/764818419/the-false-question-of-attention-economics>, accessed 29 March 2012

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