atomic, synthesis-oriented writing counteracts the perverse incentives of the attention economy

[[ 2021-12-13 ]] #attention-economy #writing #zettelkasten #note-taking

I’ve written previously about the indirect benefits zettelkasten style networked note-taking has on counteracting the negative impacts of the attention economy, like how zettelkasten provides a space for deep, contextual, and nuanced thinking. But, there are even more direct benefits.

As noted, the broad impacts of the attention economy’s perverse incentives alters widespread communication patterns. This affects us all. I even notice in myself an almost subconscious inclination to use inflammatory, attention-grabbing titles for my own writing or social media posts, with the aim of garnering more attention.

What’s great about atomic, synthesis-oriented writing (following the principle that each zettel should be a unit of thought) is that it forces us to develop titles that capture the essence of each note. That is, the title itself is sufficient to capture the contents of a note, providing the reader (usually my future self: zettelkasten enables one to have a more in depth relationship with their past, present, and future self) an accurate and non-manipulative summary.

These kinds of synthesis-oriented titles are almost wholly lacking from the media landscape at large. So often we come across ridiculous titles like: “WATCH THIS: corrupt politician gets DESTROYED!!!”, whereas a more accurate, synthesis title would be something along the lines of: “unnecessarily long video capturing an occasionally heated debate between two politicians with condescending and nuance-collapsing 3rd party commentary”. In other words, zettelkasten can help us think in an more anti-polarized way: anti-polarization as a civic virtue.

Just imagine an [[ epistemic commons ]] where large numbers of people, especially intellectually-oriented content creators, contributed to an atomic, synthesis-oriented knowledge graph (semantic graphs as a way to annotate and index our collective thinking). This is what something like [[ agora ]] could become in some ways, or at least bootstrap the development of one.

Notes mentioning this note

Here are all the notes in this garden, along with their links, visualized as a graph.