O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference - March 3-6, 2006 - San Diego, CA
Conference Coverage

Keynote

Attention Focusing Strategies

Jon Udell, Consultant and author

Date: Wednesday, March 08
Time: 8:40am - 9:10am
Location: Elizabeth Ballroom ABCD

Attention is our scarcest resource. To combat distraction, we're evolving a new arsenal of weapons. RSS feeds, tags, and podcasts are among the strategies that can help us focus on the information we want, and attend to it in ways and at times of our choosing. Just as importantly, these strategies help us communicate in ways that others can more easily attend to.

Udell's talk surveys a range of other attention-focusing strategies. Some, like writing effective titles and topic sentences, we learned in grade school--or should have. Others we too often overlook include cropping photographs, excerpting sound bites from podcasts, and showing rather than describing software behavior.

Topics include:

  • Multi-modal communication (including text, audio, and video) as a way to hold the attention of different people with different cognitive styles
  • Ways to help people more easily visualize changing systems
  • Approaches to preserving context, and reducing the disruption of context switching
  • Techniques for naming resources so that attention can focus on them, and ways of dealing with the fuzziness of all naming schemes

The message is really a variant of the golden rule. We'd all like to live in an infosphere in which we can more easily attend to the things that matter to us. So let's do for others as we wish they'd do for us, by communicating in attention-friendly ways.



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