Now that this is almost over--the Attention Economy milked within an inch of its life--we can get back to the business of living. The last few weeks have been like treading water: a series of repetitive dreams where the air is full of possibilities but somehow the getting from here to there is always just out of reach. Last night I was in some vast control room, where displays and video conferences vied for attention, but I could never quite hear well enough to choose which to join. Something about the earphone jacks on the wall.
Of course, I'm way behind on my reading. The river of news and blues is overflowing once again, reminding me why attention caught me up in the first place, this flailing in the face of time. What's new, what's the point, why do I care; each new packet analyzed for, as Doc so deeply put it, its authority and respect. I kid, because I respect. Even the bullshitters, because they are good at what they spew.
Let's not kid ouselves. It's not about attention that we're all banging our cups against the bars. It's not about memetracking; it's the meme itself. It's not about GOffice, or buying Writely, or Live Clipboard, or algorythms, or Nick Carr's SnarkRank, or Jim Allchin, or Bob Sutor, or Fooofy or _____. It's just respect. If you're going to suck me dry of all my ideas, intentions, gestures, metadata, hints, jokes, peeves, pets, directions, intuitions, bad guesses, vengeful charades, spoiled bratrums, Earthlink testimonials, and dirty dish, at least give me the respect of handing me the vaseline before you ask me to bend over. Paying attention now?
I feel better. Do you? Perhaps the trick is to develop a taste for how you feel just before you throw up. Here's the meme: It's not how you feel better when you finally throw up, it's finding that place that convinces you to throw up because it's "better out than in" as Ian McLagen once told me in the parking lot at Shangrila in Malibu. I had made the mistake of matching him drink for drink for too long and found myself staring up at the stars with my cheek pressed to the asphalt. At the time I thought it a cold remark; still do. But it was 25 years ago and I still remember it as though it was yesterday.
No, it may be cold, but at least he was giving me the respect of not giving a shit. It was there that I confirmed the feeling I got when my father died miserably of cancer, that nice guys finish first, that the ice ball we're riding has respect for each and every one of us specks of dust, and that the chances are good that no one else will ever do justice to your ideas if you don't do them for yourself. Cold comfort, but I'll take it.