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Competing in the attention economy is much the same thing as the race to the bottom. Has to be. And if we're doing movie opening analogies, Four Weddings And a Funeral.


Perhaps "operating" would be a better word than competing. It needn't be a race to the bottom - using words to write good books hasn't caused a race to the bottom. Some of it just means picking up some new skills - how to make engaging videos, or write blog posts in a tone that isn't the same as academic articles, or cultivate an online network, or use images to enhance presentations, etc.
All of these can lead to better pieces - when I think it's negative is when it becomes obvious and the main focus. When it's a replacement for good content. Those opening lines of novels went on to be great novels, but I'm sure there are others that have been sold on a good opening line but is a dull novel. I've noticed a few journal articles trying to have catchy titles which have been a bit desperate recently.


"Those opening lines of novels went on to be great novels, but I'm sure there are others that have been sold on a good opening line but is a dull novel."

For me, that is the key to the point you are making. It's not about the catchy line and the dull follow through but about taking the time to ensure that what your learners experience is actually worth their time. Taking the time to deliver "the whole package" is, after all, the best thing one can do to create engaging learning experiences.

How many times have academics relied upon the fact that they have a captive audience and do little or no preparation, stand in front of a class and yak away thinking they're doing their job, and then wonder why email and Facebook steal the attention. The students roll up in the hope that something said might win through the attention space.

Frequently the move to technology mediated learning, assuming any genuine concern for student experience, results in better content than many lectures, even by the same academic, because the former requires preparation, planning, consideration of the media to be used and how the communication is structured.

My understanding of what you posted is a request that the academic community strive beyond the "captive audience" thinking and stimulate learners to achieve higher outcomes because they are inspired to do so.

"A curtain finally closes, the lights fade out of this town.
They're cutting up yesterdays roses, they're aint no circus without a clown." Sacred Things, Vika and Linda Bull but unfortunately not on YouTube.

(Maybe not your musical cup of tea, but the rest of the lyrics and music deliver... And it is near enough to Valentine for there to be enough roses ;) )


"using words to write good books hasn't caused a race to the bottom"

But academic books are a race apart from "books". I don't recommend Jeffrey Archer or Dan Brown to my students. It's not just words, it's the choice of words. Likewise, I don't want to compete for attention with what the online equivalent of 50 Shades of Grey is.


great to see a Hold Steady video in a learning technology blog!

Hayley Atkinson

You have definitely proved yourself right with this post title. While I can't say whether or not I'd have read it with a different title, seeing chips ahoy drew me in. And I kept reading to see where you started talking Hold Steady. Here's to more learning tech/Hold Steady crossovers.


@Chris & Hayley - next week "open access and Sequestered in Memphis" :)

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