"Critical Ignoring and Effective Product Management: Navigating the Attention Economy"

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Aug 09, 2023 • 3 min read

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"Critical Ignoring and Effective Product Management: Navigating the Attention Economy"

In today's attention economy, where information overload is rampant, critical thinking alone is not enough. We need to develop the skill of "critical ignoring" to combat the excesses, traps, and information disorders that come with an abundance of information. The platforms that control search and social media were designed to capture our attention, auctioning off our most precious cognitive resource. To regain control and shield ourselves from manipulation, we must learn to choose what to ignore and where to invest our limited attentional capacities.

The digital world is flooded with information, much of which comes from unvetted sources lacking reliable indicators of trustworthiness. Investing critical thinking in these sources only plays into the hands of attention merchants and malicious actors who seek to exploit our attention. Critical ignoring goes beyond simply not paying attention; it involves practicing mindful and healthy habits to navigate the overwhelming amount of information available.

To effectively practice critical ignoring, three main strategies can be employed. The first strategy is self-nudging, which empowers individuals to become citizen "choice architects" of their informational environments. By consciously designing their digital spaces in ways that work best for them and that restrict their activities in beneficial ways, individuals can regain control over their attention and filter out unnecessary noise.

The second strategy is lateral reading, which involves emulating the techniques used by professional fact checkers to establish the credibility of online information. Instead of getting entangled in the design and reports of a website, fact checkers exercise critical ignoring by carefully evaluating sources and avoiding falling into the traps of misinformation. This strategy can be particularly useful in the digital age, where false information spreads quickly and easily.

The third strategy is the "do-not-feed-the-trolls" heuristic, which targets online trolls and other malicious users who engage in cyberbullying and other antisocial tactics. Navigating this strategy successfully requires new competencies that should be taught in schools, equipping individuals with the necessary skills to protect themselves from online harassment and manipulation.

In the realm of product management, the concept of critical ignoring can also be applied. The article "0→1 と 1→N のプロダクトマネジメントの違い|ぴかし|note" explores the difference between the "0→1" and "1→N" phases of product management. In the "0→1" phase, product managers focus on achieving product-market fit (PMF) by rapidly iterating through the PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) cycle. The goal is not to make incremental improvements but to make a 10x leap in the product's performance. In this phase, it is more important to have confidence in scaling and achieving growth in the "1→N" phase than obsessing over user numbers or immediate revenue.

In the "1→N" phase, where PMF has already been achieved, the focus shifts toward scaling the product and aiming for a hockey-stick growth curve. To accomplish this, it is crucial to enhance the product's unique value proposition, making it difficult for competitors to imitate. Companies like Netflix invest heavily in content, while Amazon invests in logistics, all with the aim of increasing the value they provide to their customers.

In conclusion, critical ignoring is a necessary skill in today's attention economy, enabling individuals to reclaim autonomy over their attention and shield themselves from information overload and manipulation. By practicing self-nudging, lateral reading, and the "do-not-feed-the-trolls" heuristic, individuals can navigate the digital landscape more effectively. Similarly, in the realm of product management, the ability to discern what to ignore and what to invest in is essential for achieving success and growth.

Resource:

  1. "When critical thinking isn't enough: to beat information overload, we need to learn 'critical ignoring'", https://theconversation.com/when-critical-thinking-isnt-enough-to-beat-information-overload-we-need-to-learn-critical-ignoring-198549 (Glasp)
  2. "0→1 と 1→N のプロダクトマネジメントの違い|ぴかし|note", https://note.com/pika_shi/n/n932abaf390f2 (Glasp)

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