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Casual Content Consumption – The War for Your Non-Attention

Since 2008, my Chumby has been sitting on my night stand. I’ve loaded numerous widgets to check my email, look at weather, view facebook and flickr photos, and even listen to music and radio. I’ve come to love this little touchscreen device. It doesn’t beg me to use it. There are weeks that go by where it’s only used as a clock, but it never complains. It was made for this purpose.

We have a lot of screens in our house. Four laptops, 3 iphones, an Android tablet, a couple TV’s, an iPad, a few portable DVD players, a Zune, and of course, my Chumby. My family consumes hours of media every day. Digital books, games, music, and streaming video. The TV has been long ago been delegated to background noise. Sure, we have our favorite shows, but we don’t use a DVR (yes we have one).

The heavens opened up when someone introduced me to Boxee Alpha a couple years ago. The software was a dashboard for all my favorite content, as well as access to Netflix and Hulu (which has been blocked). I had heard about media streaming devices, and people using Windows Media Center to store and distribute content to their TV’s, but it lacked the elegance that Boxee provided.

Since the time I first installed Boxee on my laptop, we’ve hooked a Mac Mini to our TV, stream Netflix through the Wii, iPad, iPhones, and Xbox 360. I even use my iPhone as a remote. This is the future of entertainment, or is it?

Consuming all this content has made me come to a realization. We’re trained to multitask, and the devices make it easier for us to only give partial attention. Like my Chumby, these devices constantly serve up content, but it’s only background noise until we pay attention. We’re just scanning for the next perfect “soundbite”, and the media has adapted.

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