- Michael Shields
This thought-provoking 100th episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Oakland, California-based artist, writer, and educator, Jenny Odell. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, New York Magazine, The Paris Review, The Believer, McSweeney’s, and Sierra Magazine. Her visual work has been exhibited internationally, including as a mural on the side of a Google data center in rural Oklahoma. Odell has been an artist in residence at the Internet Archive, the San Francisco Planning Department, and Recology SF (otherwise known as the dump) and is a lecturer in the Department of Art & Art History at Stanford University. This episode focuses on Odell’s bestselling book How To Do Nothing: Resisting The Attention Economy. In a world where addictive technology is designed to buy and sell our attention, and our value is determined by our 24/7 data productivity, it can seem impossible to escape. But in this inspiring “field guide” to dropping out of the attention economy that is How To Do Nothing, Odell teaches us how to win back our lives. Our attention is the most precious — and overdrawn — resource we have and Odell contests we must actively and continuously choose how we use it. We might not spend it on things that capitalism has deemed important…but once we can start paying a new kind of attention, she writes, we can undertake bolder forms of political action, reimagine humankind’s role in the environment, and arrive at more meaningful understandings of happiness and progress. Far from the simple anti-technology screed, or the back-to-nature meditation we read so often, How to do Nothing is an action plan for thinking outside of capitalist narratives of efficiency and techno-determinism. Provocative, timely, and utterly persuasive, Odell’s insightful book will change how you see your place in our world, and this episode acts as the perfect introduction to How To Do Nothing and the important ideas that it holds.
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