In this TedTalk, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has mentioned that there are these two powerful feelings. There is getting attention and paying attention. In the last decade or so, new technology has allowed more and more people to have this powerful feeling of getting attention. For any kind of creative expression, not just acting. It could be writing or photography or drawing, music — everything. The channels of distribution have been democratized, and that’s a good thing.

He continued by saying that psychologists and neuroscientists have studied a phenomenon they call flow, which is this thing that happens in the human brain when someone pays attention to just one thing, like something creative, and manages not to get distracted by anything else. And some say the more regularly you do this, the happier you’ll be.

He believes that technology is not the enemy of creativity. He thinks tech is just a tool. It has the potential to foster unprecedented human creativity. He even started an online community called HITRECORD, where people all over the world collaborate on all kinds of creative projects, so he does not think that social media or smartphones or any technology is problematic in and of itself. But, if we are going to talk about the perils of creativity becoming a means to get attention, then we have to talk about the attention-driven business model of today’s big social media companies.

In part of his talk, he mentioned that if your creativity is driven by a desire to get attention, you’re never going to be creatively fulfilled. But if there is one thing that he thinks helps him focus and really pay attention, it’s this: he tries not to see other creative people as his competitors. He tries to find collaborators. 

And to him, this is the beauty of the internet. If we could just stop competing for attention, then the internet becomes a great place to find collaborators. And once I’m collaborating with other people, whether they’re on set, or online, wherever, that makes it so much easier for him to find that flow, because they are all just paying attention to the one thing that they are making together. And he feels like he is part of something larger than his self.


Gordon-Levitt, Joseph. “Joseph Gordon-Levitt: How Craving Attention Makes You Less Creative | TED Talk.” Accessed January 15, 2023.

Personal Analysis:

This TedTalk highlights the necessity of both getting and paying attention, which many of us may forget at times since technology and social media make us just crave attention. When Joseph Gordon-Levitt described flow state, I thought about how flow may be a motivation for my design studies. He believes today’s big social media companies’ business models are attention-driven. That sparked some questions for me about what factors lead businesses to this approach and how those factors may be changed via design research to create creates inattention-driven business model.

Moreover, he talked about how being part of a community through technology and social media makes people feel that they are part of something larger. As one of the beneficial characteristics of social media, this aspect could also be one of the main aspects of my design research.