Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Attention!! (

Made you look, eh?

Attention and the way we focus it are incredibly important aspects of intelligence analysis.

In the first place, there is some pretty good research to suggest that we learn what we attend to. Understanding where certain analytic methods focus our attention, then, allows us to determine what we might (or might not) learn from them. This, in turn, allows us to decide more rationally which method to choose for which situation.

Psyblog (via Elearnspace) has an interesting series of short articles that discuss these effects in much more detail. Specifically, these authors delve into seven additional aspects of attention:

  • The Cocktail Party Effect
  • The Attentional Spotlight
  • Learning To Multitask
  • Can Visual Attention Be Truly Divided?
  • 18 Ways Attention Goes Wrong
  • Attentional Blink And The Stream Of Consciousness
  • How Meditation Improves Attention
I am currently working on a research project designed to develop the hardware and software for a human-computer interface that allows analysts to "optimize" their attention while doing their job on the move. The centrality of attention emerged early in this project and I suspect that the more I look at it, the more important it is going to become in a wide variety of analytic tasks. This short series of posts is a very good introduction to the topic.


Pat said...

You may wish to look at the new book "Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life", by Winifred Gallagher (New York: Penguin Press, 2009). I've got it sitting in my office, ready to read, but only after I finish Black Swan.

Kristan J. Wheaton said...


Thanks for the leads!