Those who have followed Esther Dyson for the past thirty years are already conversant on the topic of the attention-based economy and, if you aren't, you are able to sort it out just by dent of your present intelligence. Bethatasyoumay, it's time for you to find out what Mr. Stoppard thinks about the topic as he's spoken up to a reporter from the estimable Guardian.
Mr. Stoppard's thoughts, and I feel so self-conscious coming between you right now and the link to the story, dove-tails quite nicely with posts I've made regarding what some see as the waning of printed media and the possibility that our shared intellect (may I have some more, please) might be disappearing as part of the bargain.
On the one hand, I too am very sentimental about the relentless diminishing of the book. On the other hand, I have to be optimistic about the bright future. And regarding that "bright future," I just finished reading a story in the NYTimes that gave me pause. The article describes how reading might be becoming a "social" activity. Kindle readers have the option of connecting their book reading experience with everyone else who's reading the same book on the Kindle. This means that Amazon can aggregate highlighting and annotations and then push those out to every reader of that book. --Again, I'm not sure how I feel about this even though the experience is completely optional. But I know and believe that every new technology has a manifest destiny to reach a new shore of experience that will open new windows of understanding. This is inevitable.
Now, as a reward for putting up with my observations, here's a snippet from Mr. Stoppard's interview with the Guardian:
"I am aware, as everybody has to be, that there's more competition for one's attention nowadays," he said.
"The printed word is no longer as in demand as when I was of the age of pupils or even at the age of the teachers teaching them."
The "moving image," he added, was taking precedence in many children's lives over "the printed page … [and] I think that's to the detriment".
"I want to support the whole idea of the humanities and teaching the humanities as being something that – even if it can't be quantitatively measured as other subjects – it's as fundamental to all education."