Our eyes are drawn to meaning, not shiny objects

Andy Fell, Futurity, Oct 04, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes
files/images/attention-meaning-maps_740.jpg

We're looking at something, a display in a classroom or video, say. "How do we decide where to direct our attention, without thinking about it?" Well, we don't 'decide', because that just is a cognitive process. But our attention is directed. To what? Bright and shiny things? Not so much. The right answer is 'salience', which in this article is depicted as 'meaningful'. Something is salient if it is important or connected to what is happening or being discussed (see a much deeper account of this in Stalnaker's Thesis in Context). Sadly the paper cited in this short article is behind a paywall, but you can find similar work by the same author in this paper on scan patterns. Of course, some of these principles have been old saws in graphic design for decades. See also here and here for the same content as repeated in Futurity (the original source is probably the publisher's marketing department).

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