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Short Attention Span

Mr. Trump has mastered this era of short attention spans in politics by realizing that if you’re the one regularly feeding the stream, you can forever move past your latest trouble, and hasten the mass amnesia. ...
Peter Hamby, Snapchat’s head of news, said Snapchat should not be “an emblem for a lack of attention span in our politics.” ...

Snapchat’s reports are ephemeral, he said, because “it’s about being in the moment” with this young audience, being in the flow of their lives.

Of course, that’s where that audience lives, in the moment.
- Jim Rutenberg, In This Snapchat Campaign, Election News Is Big and Then It’s Gone, NYT, April 24, 2016



Alina Tugend quotes James Ryan on the short attention span of today's students:

Students’ attention wanders “in a frighteningly short time — six to 10 minutes,” said James E. Ryan, dean of the Graduate School of Education at Harvard.
- Alina Tugend, Educators Discuss the Future of Higher Education, NYT, June 22, 2016


Conversations with some officials who have briefed Trump and others who are aware of how he absorbs information portray a president with a short attention span.

He likes single-page memos and visual aids like maps, charts, graphs and photos.

National Security Council officials have strategically included Trump's name in "as many paragraphs as we can because he keeps reading if he's mentioned," according to one source, who relayed conversations he had with NSC officials.
- Reuters, Embroiled in controversies, Trump seeks boost on foreign trip, Wed May 17, 2017 | 9:38am EDT


Meanwhile, NATO is telling heads of state to keep their remarks at a May 25 summit under four minutes to accommodate the president’s attention span, according to Foreign Policy. “It’s like they’re preparing to deal with a child — someone with a short attention span and mood who has no knowledge of NATO, no interest in in-depth policy issues, nothing,” a source with knowledge of the preparations told Foreign Policy.

At this point, regardless of what happens with Mr. Comey, the Russians and anything else that comes out of the White House in the next few days, it’s hard to see how Mr. Trump can function as the president. Reports cast him as someone who cannot be trusted to perform the core duties of his office.
- ANNA NORTH, President Trump’s King Lear Moment, NYT, MAY 17, 2017


"It can be difficult to advise the President effectively given his seemingly short attention span and propensity to be easily distracted," a source knowledgeable about McMaster's day-to-day challenges told CNN.
- Jake Tapper, Between Trump and his national security adviser lie 'ferocious' internal politics, CNN, May 19, 2017


People who have been to the Oval Office have come away stunned by Trump’s minimal attention span, his appalling lack of information, his tendency to say more than he knows.
- Elizabeth Drew, Trump: The Presidency in Peril, New York Review of Books, JUNE 22, 2017


The decline in newspaper reading after the early seventies was a miner's canary for an accelerating and relentless abbreviation of the public's attention span, now fragmented into millions of bits and bytes by the unlimited electronically and digitally generated distractions that make up our way of life.
- Susan Jacoby, The Age of American Unreason, Pantheon Books (2008), pp. 242-243


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