Driven To Distraction


2019021220190218 (R4)Are we really more distracted than ever before? Historian Rhys Jones explores the history of distraction and how previous generations have fought back

We are often told we are in the middle of a distraction crisis - big tech companies have learned how to monetise procrastination and are stealing our attention from us. Yet Rhys Jones explores how, throughout history, there has been an interplay between people who try to take our attention from us and people who resist - from 18th century worries about the novel to protestors against advertising posters in 19th century Paris.

Rhys also meets those trying to find ways to live without distraction today. Susan Maushart decided to turn off all her screens and live in the dark for six months, while James Williams a former Google staffer, is campaigning for the tech industry itself to reform, creating an ethics of distraction.

Can we go back to a place where technology is about changing our lives rather than stealing our attention?

With Abigail Williams, Tim Wu, Nir Eyal, Susan Maushart and James Williams.

Presented by Rhys Jones
Produced by Joe Sykes
A Somethin' Else production for Radio 4

Historian Rhys Jones asks if we really are more distracted than ever before.