AttentionBook Reviews

Stolen Focus – Johann Hari

Johann Hari’s book is a summary of three years of research and interviewing specialists in a number of academic areas. The mission of his book is to investigate how technology is changing our ability to focus and pay attention.

Over the course of three years Johann Hari interviews a number of ‘experts’ in various disciplines, in an attempt to understand why and how our attention and focus have been ‘stolen’. 

The book provides extensive insights into what is happening to our attention and focus and worth a read if you want to gain some understanding of how technology is changing our brain structures and how we interact with the world around us.

His book begins with the trigger for why he started down the path of investigating why and how our focus has been stolen by technology. 

The research, and content of his book, investigate both sides of the coin, namely factors that have impacted our ability to resist the onslaught of technology and how tech giants are using technology to manipulate and use our attention for their own ends. 

Although he does often suggest that his interviewees are e.g. ‘arguably the world’s leading expert’ or ‘one of the leading experts in the world’, it is important to note that there are a number of experts in each of these academic and scientific areas who may be just as knowledgeable than those he has interviewed. 

The insights from the experts that Johann Hari brings into the public domain do give us a much clearer understanding of how technology is changing the way we work, play and live. The warnings are useful to note and consider when making decisions around technology use. The solutions he suggests, however, seem a little simplistic and do not seem to address the underlying issues e.g. locking your phone in a safe with a timer seems more like a ‘bandaid solution’ than a potential tool that can be used to change overall behaviour.  

Below are a number of interviews and talks that Johann Hari has given about his book ‘Stolen Focus’. A large portion of what he talks about in his book are covered in these interviews. 

You can find out more about his book Stolen Focus including some additional notes and snippets to his interviews on the Stolen Focus website

About Johann Hari:

Johann Hari is a journalist and author. You can read more about him on his official website

His book Stolen Focus is one of four that he has authored.