A Condition

A letter came home from Ph.’s school beginning, “Dear Nottingham Seniors and Families.” In it, a list of reminders, three bulleted items, and the third one is this:

Please beware of “senioritis”. Senioritis is a condition that happens to good kids in the spring semester of their senior year. It is contagious and the symptoms are not sometimes obvious at first. Students with senioritis are not focused, demonstrate a sudden lack of interest, and they find it difficult to complete and follow through regarding simple tasks. Senioritis will pass but the consequences may be devastating, i.e. not graduating, not being accepted in your school of choice, etc.

Were I not myself “find[ing] it difficult to complete and follow through regarding simple tasks,” the next part of this blog entry was going to be a snarky blow-by-blow analysis noting how the senioritis bullet appears next to clip art of a stethoscope and doctor’s bag. It was going to have a witty joke about how nobody is using doctor’s bags or medical instruments these days to diagnose the affliction and also something about what a damnable shame it is that the most devastating consequences from this “sudden lack of interest” are centered on the student and only the student insofar as it may keep you from your school of choice, or worse, from graduating altogether.

Anyway, beware of this and other stuff and such.

Information Pickup

I was reading for exams when I came across "The Theory of Information Pickup
and Its Consequences," Ch. 14 in James Gibson’s The Ecological Approach to
Visual Perception
. Gibson writes about ecological optics; a version of his
theory of affordances appears in ch. 8. He’s a small piece of what he writes
about information pickup:

The act of picking up information, moreover, is a continuous act, an
activity that is ceaseless and unbroken. The sea of energy in which we live
flows and changes without sharp breaks. Even the tiny fraction of this energy
that affects the receptors in the eyes, ear, nose, mouth, and skin is a flux,
not a sequence. The exploring, orienting, and adjusting of organs sink to a
minimum during sleep but do not stop dead. Hence, perceiving is a stream, and
William James’ description of the stream of consciousness (1890, Ch. 9),
applies to it. Discrete percepts, like discrete ideas, are "as mythical as the
Jack of Spades." (240)

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Narrow v. Broad

I could have missed Paul Ford’s guest entry at

43 Folders
, long as it is, because, well, I’m hard pressed to engage very
closely with long-ish entries that aggregate into my Bloglines account these
days, no matter how brilliant and insightful those long-ish entries might be. 
I’ve been finding myself broad-distracted lately, but just this once, I cast
caution to the wind and, instead of picking up Lanham for chapter seven, I
returned to Ford’s guest entry, wondering why did I flag it the other
day–kept as new

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Continuous, Partial

These notes
from the recent
Supernova 2005
conference–themed "Attention"–call attention to the keynote address by
Linda Stone, which she leads by citing her own coinage of "continuous
partial attention" in 1997.  I’m hesitant to argue with the phrase out of
context, but I appreciate the position expressed at


this article
) that attention structures are partial, layered, shifting,
afflux. Broader questions–likely explained by Stone elsewhere–fold into this,
such as the degree to which technologies bring about changes in consciousness
(what we mean by attention?) or whether the attention-fragmenting domain
now filled up with the digital apparatus simply presents us with more
interferences and distractions (material and informational).  The notes
(which I’m taking as reasonably reliable) have these as Stone’s closing

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