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Welcome to Digitally Literate, issue #392. Your go-to source for insightful content on education, technology, and the digital landscape.

This week I posted the following:

Stay tuned for more insights and discussions!

👀 The Attention Economy

Economics traditionally focuses on the allocation of scarce resources such as housing, food, or money. However, scarcity takes on a different form in this age of unlimited information access. It’s not tangible like the initial examples that can be quantified and measured; instead, our invaluable yet intangible attention becomes scarce. We’re living in the era of the attention economy. Explore

The concept of the “attention economy” was first introduced by psychologist, economist, and Nobel Laureate Herbert A. Simon. He described attention as the “bottleneck of human thought,” limiting our perception in stimulating environments and our ability to act. He also noted that “a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention,” dispelling the notion of effective multitasking.

Later, in 1997, theoretical physicist Micheal Goldhaber predicted a shift in the global economy from material-based to attention-based, citing the numerous free services available online. As we continue to move away from an industrial economy and fewer people are involved in manufacturing, careers centered around information are emerging. Despite the common term “information economy” used to describe this new phase, Goldhaber dismisses it; information is abundant, and attention is scarce. Investigate

Businesses are capitalizing on this scarcity by adapting their models to grab our attention. In addition to the direct effects of social media exposure, it’s important to look at the substitution effect – how this exposure may crowd out other activities. Amidst this overflow of stimuli vying for our attention, we should pay more heed to what we’re paying attention to. Read more

⛑️ Deskilling

Deskilling simplifies complex tasks into smaller, repetitive tasks that require few skills—a labor process critical to mass production and consumer capitalism. It is a strategy employed by those who own and profit from production processes to maintain their power. By keeping product conception separate from execution, knowledge about production is kept within a select few, with workers performing highly specific tasks without understanding the broader context. Learn more

danah boyd highlights the concept of “deskilling” in the context of AI and automation. boyd raises important questions about how to prepare for deskilling on the job and the balance between efficiency and maintaining strong skills in a rapidly changing technological landscape.

Laura Hilliger pushes back on boyd’s piece and questions the idea that automation leads to a lack of highly skilled individuals, arguing that skills required in society are evolving rather than being lost. Hilliger delves into the changing nature of job skills, cognitive advancements, and the potential for new tools to enhance human cognitive abilities. Read here

😶‍🌫️ Algorithmic Management

Behavior design is an applied discipline that applies insights from psychology to influence human decisions. The digital interface, such as smartphone apps, is a key tool for shaping human behavior. Delve into

Algorithmic management refers to the array of technologies and methods used to manage workers in platform economies, like the algorithm-driven systems Uber uses to direct drivers toward high-demand areas. It has also evolved to describe the various technological tools used for monitoring and managing remote workers across different sectors. Investigate

Algorithmic management often has negative effects on workers. Research suggests these systems often result in workers experiencing less variety and skill use in their tasks, reduced job autonomy, and increased uncertainty and insecurity. This is largely due to the complex and opaque nature of algorithmic systems; workers cannot predict or control how their work input will affect the output, leading to feeling at the mercy of an algorithm. Go deeper

🏹 Purpose and Value

As the eagle was killed by the arrow winged with his own feather, so the hand of the world is wounded by its own skill.

Helen Keller

Thank you for being a part of Digitally Literate. Stay tuned for more insights and discussions. Reach out at or connect on social media.

Cover photo credits.

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