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Stolen focus with Johann Hari

Johann Hari and Rosalind Dixon

Think about anything you've ever achieved in your life that you're proud of, whether it's starting a business, being a good parent, learning to play the guitar, whatever it is. That thing that you're proud of, required a huge amount of sustained focus and attention. And when your ability to pay attention breaks down, your ability to achieve your goals breaks down, your ability to solve your problems breaks down.

Johann Hari

Our ability to pay attention is collapsing. It’s not just you, our focus has been stolen by powerful external forces.

New York Times best-selling author Johann Hari has been on a mission to uncover why this is happening to us and whether we can get our focus back. In his newest book, Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention, Hari investigates how technology and other facets of modern life have impacted our ability to concentrate. What he discovered were structural problems rather than the individuals personal failing.  

In conversation with UNSW’s Rosalind Dixon, they explore why it is so important that we pay attention to this ‘attention revolution’ and what we can do to get our focus back. 

Head here to purchase a copy of Johann Hari's book, Stolen Focus: Why You Can't Pay Attention. 

Johann Hari

Johann Hari

Johann Hari is the author of three New York Times best-selling books, and the Executive Producer of an Oscar-nominated movie and an eight-part TV series starring Samuel L. Jackson. His books have been translated into 38 languages, and been praised by a broad range of people, from Oprah to Noam Chomsky, from Elton John to Naomi Klein. His latest book, Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention, published in January 2022, received rave reviews everywhere from the Washington Post to the Irish Times to the Sydney Morning Herald. It has been a best-seller on three continents. Johann’s first book, Chasing the Scream: the First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, was adapted into the Oscar-nominated film The United States Vs Billie Holiday. It has also been adapted into a documentary series which is available to view now. His second book, Lost Connections: Uncovering The Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions was described by the British Journal of General Practice as “one of the most important texts of recent years”, and shortlisted for an award by the British Medical Association.   

Photo of Rosalind Dixon

Rosalind Dixon

Rosalind Dixon is a Professor of Law and Director of the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law at UNSW Sydney. She is a graduate of UNSW and Harvard, and has taught at law schools around the world – including Harvard, Columbia, University of Chicago and National University Singapore, and is the author of a new book, with Richard Holden, From Free to Fair Markets: Liberalism after COVID out later this year. She is passionate about law and politics, and currently Director of the Pathways to Politics for Women Program at NSW. 

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