IP8- Attention Record and Analysis


In this IP, I was asked to record what I pay attention to.

Below is my raw data of where my attention went for 12 hours on Febuary 14, 2024. During this time, I was working at UBC-V Campus.

TimeWhat I didWhere my attention wentEmotion
8:00Turn off alarm. Check notification.phonetired
8:00Brush my teeth/wash my facemirror/selftired
8:00Eat breakfast. Mom talks to mePerson(mom)neutral
8:00Change clothes, put on make upmiror/selfneutral
8:00Wear earphone, set up connection to the phone.phoneneutral
8:00Head to work by public transitmusicfrustration
9:00Arrive work. Take off earphone and set up workspace.surroundingtired
laptopneutral
9:00Walk to kitchen and grab water, say hi to coworkersurroundingneutral
laptopneutral
9:00Heard students talking outside of windowpeople (students)neutral
surrounding (outside of window)neutral
10:00Continue to work. Printing workshop materials.printerneutral
surroundingneutral
10:00Coworker sends news on my mobile phonephonecurious
Watch news on laptoplaptopcurious
Reply to my coworker via text appphoneneutral
Go back to worklaptopneutral
Skin feels dry. focus on handhand/selfanxiety
Go back to work. prepping for meeting at 11:00laptopneutral
Notification popped up on phone. attention goes to phonephonecurious
11:00Walk to another building for a meetingpeopleneutral
Bumped into my coworker. My cowoker was wearing a nice bike jacketpeople(coworker)happy
bike jackethappy
Arrived to meeting location. my coworkers were therepeople (coworkers)neutral
Meeting (in-person) start. the agenda of the meeting is on the laptoppeople(coworker who is talking)neutral
laptopneutral
12:00Lunch. go to a restaurant. order food. the restaurant was surroudned with posters.posterneutral
peopleneutral
At the restaurant finding space to eatsurroundingneutral
Asked one of the student on the seat to ask if the space is empty. the student answers yesstudentneutral
The food arrived, and start eating foodfoodneutral
The student asked me if I can watch her laptop. I kill time by checking notification in phonestudents’ laptopneutral
phoneneutral
Finish eating. put the dishes awaydish containerneutral
Walk back to office.studentsneutral
Rent HOPR (bike rental service) .HOPR requires me to open an app to rent.phonefrustration
bikefrustration
Get on HOPR bike.surroundingneutral
peopleneutral
Return HOPR bike using app.bikeneutral
phoneneutral
Walk to office. bumped into cowokrerpeoplehappy
1:00Back to worklaptopneutral
Headphone is tangled. untagleheadphone cordfrustration
Focus on worklaptopneutral
2:00Notification pops up on phonephonecurious
Focus on worklaptopneutral
coworker borrows chargerperson (coworker)neutral
chargerneutrla
back to worklaptopneutral
coworker wants to return chargerperson (coworker)neutral
laptopneutral
Stretch. Look away from laptopsurroundingtired
Receive text message from parents.phoneneutral
Back to worklaptoptired
Got an email saying there’s mouse in the office. started looking at the floor.flooranxiety
3:00Meeting (zoom)laptopneutral
4:00Stretch look away from laptopsurroundingneutral
Go back to workLaptopneutral
Head homeSurroundinghappy
Rent a ebike to head to downtownBikehappy
Appneutral
5:00Ride a bike. Turn on musicSurroundingneutral
Musictired
6:00Park the bikeParking stationtired
Biketired
Eat dinner at a restaurantMenutired
Persontired
Phonetired
7:00Rent a bikeBiketired
Musictired
Surroundingtired
Park the bikeParking stationtired
Table 1
Raw data on where my attention was directed on February 14, 2024

I cleaned up the data and made analysis based on the raw data. During the process, I combined:

  • all of the attention of human being (including coworker, mom, etc) to “people” and
  • all of the attention of my body parts (full body, hand) to “self”.
Where My Attention Goes (percentage) :
parking station: 2.7
bike: 6.8
food: 1.4
printer: 1.4
laptop: 18.9
phone: 14.9
self: 3.1
people: 18.9
music:4.1
surrounding: 14.9
Figure 1
Where my attention was directed during the 12 hours.

Data Analysis

As I go through the raw data and visualization of the data, I noticed several interesting patterns. 

Multitasking

When examining the raw data, I noticed that I engage in a considerable amount of multitasking. For example, I listen to music while biking and review notes on my laptop as I listen to a coworker during a meeting. This behavior aligns with the concept of organic/social convergence as outlined by Jenkins (2021),where consumers multitask to navigate the complex information environment . Additionally, I recognize a tendency towards hyper-attention, where my focus rapidly shifts between various tasks (Citton, 2016, p. 10). Throughout a one-hour meeting, my attention went back and forth between my laptop and coworker.While this allowed me to multitask, such as following the meeting’s agenda on my laptop, it sometimes leads to missing important comments from coworkers.

By the end of the day’s end, specifically from 6 to 7pm, I recorded feeling “tired” which can be caused by the constant switching of attention between tasks. However, multitasking is not always bad. Citton, referencing Christopher Mole, pointed out that the ability to engage with a task inattentively can be a sophisticated skill (2016, p. 185). For example, listening to music while commuting or biking represents a positive form of multitasking. Without music, my attention would be focused on monotonous surroundings for an hour, which can be very energy-draining.

Controlling the Attention

As Citton (2016) has mentioned, it is possible to control the environment’s attention, though this control can be limited (p. 176). During the 12 hours, I attempted to manage the environment’s attention by setting my phone to silent and keeping it at a distance from the monitor. Nevertheless, my attention still shifted to the phone when a notification appeared. I receive notifications on my phone that are both work-related (Outlook, Slack) and personal (news, messages from friends and family). Until I check my phone, I cannot differentiate between work and personal messages, leading me to believe I have become accustomed to checking phone notifications even when the device is set to silent. Fleming (2021) discusses how it is cognitively challenging to ignore phone notifications, which can even tax one’s self-control resources. I keep my phone on the table in case there is an emergency call from my family. However, I probably need to make more deliberate decisions about which app notifications should be activated.

Attention in Office Environement vs at Home

As I examine the visualization of the graph (Figure 1), I notice that my attention is evenly distributed. This distribution is likely influenced by the fact that I recorded this while working in the office. In such an environment, a variety of events can cause shifts in attention, including encountering coworkers, receiving requests from colleagues, or observing students. I anticipate that if I were to record this during a work-from-home day, my attention would be more concentrated on my laptop and phone. I find the office environment is similar to what Citton has described as “polyphonic attention” where attention is distributed across multiple stimuli, tasks and information. (2021, p. 188) I personally prefer the office environment because it forces me to spread out my attention, whereas in a work-from-home environment, my attention would be concentrated on my laptop and mobile phone.

Attention in Education Context

In my work, I facilitate a professional development workshop for faculty, students, and staff. As a facilitator, I find it important to engage with the audience in a meaningful way.

Citton suggested enhancing polyphonic attention as a way to manage and diversify focus across various stimuli and tasks, thereby enhancing audience engagement (2021, p. 188). During the workshop, I try to create multiple engagement points, such as group discussions, where participants are encouraged to share with their peers and then with the audience. This approach allows the attention of the audience to be distributed among other participants, slides, and facilitators, which can lead to a richer experience for the audience.

I also notice that I utilize joint attention when directing the audience on where to focus their attention. Citton highlights the significance of shared attention by stating, “Joint attention shifts from a dyadic to a triadic relationship, where two subjects coordinate their attention towards an object” (Citton, 2016, p. 18) .An example of this is when I demonstrate how to log in to a course wiki site during workshops. I instruct, “Log in using the login button on the top-right side of the screen,” thereby directing the audience’s focus to the screen. I also zoom into the login screen so that the focus is narrowed down to the login area. Without this coordination of attention, the audience might be lost when trying to find the login screen.

References

Fleming, A. (2021, December 16). Distraction disaster! Notifications are ruining our concentration – here’s how to escape them. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2021/dec/16/distraction-disaster-notifications-hell-ping-phone-interruptions-escape

Jenkins, H. (2001, June 1). Convergence? I Diverge. MIT Technology Review. https://www.technologyreview.com/2001/06/01/235791/convergence-i-diverge/

Yves Citton. (2016). The Ecology of Attention. Polity. https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=shib&db=nlebk&AN=1453389&site=ehost-live&scope=site&custid=s5672194