A Quick Primer on “Rewilding Your Attention”
Highlights from my Medium Day talk on how I decouple my brain from social-media feeds
For two years now I’ve been working on strategies to “rewild my attention”.
What precisely is rewilding one’s attention? It’s about spending less time clicking on stuff that big-tech algorithms push in our direction — and more time cultivating a weirder, more idiosyncratic media landscape.
If you want to have wilder, curiouser thoughts, you have to avoid the industrial monocropping of big-tech feeds. You want an intellectual forest, overgrown with mushrooms and towering weeds and a massive dead log where a family of raccoons has taken up residence. [snip]
Instead of crowding your attention with what’s already going viral on the intertubes, focus on the weird stuff. Hunt down the idiosyncratic posts and videos that people are publishing, oftentimes to tiny and niche audiences. It’s decidedly unviral culture — but it’s more likely to plant in your mind the seed of a rare, new idea.
I’m a science journalist (and science nerd in general), so I love the life-sciences metaphor here, the mind as a garden. And, in an aspect fractal of the very idea of rewilding, I didn’t come up with the phrase “rewilding your attention”: It was a coinage of Tom Critchlow’s that I stumbled upon while reading the personal blog of CJ Eller. Meta!
Cool — but how precisely do you rewild your attention?
Today, I did a short talk for “Medium Day” about some of the attentional hacks I’ve developed over the last few years. I mentioned a bunch of resources I personally use, and promised to summarize them and link to them in a blog post.
So, forthwith, the list. Some Resources I Use For Rewilding Your Attention:
I use the RSS reader Feedly to follow about 430 web sites — a mix of personal blogs, news organizations, and niche websites devoted to everything from tech and science to visual art, philosophy, urban…