James Shelley’s Attention Economy Is, Well, Economic

July 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

What does it mean when most of our attention is consumed by the pursuit of attracting the attention of others?

It was back in 1971 that Herbert Simon suggested that “a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention”1 and now the difficulty of capturing people’s attention (“a highly perishable commodity”)2 has some theorists suggesting that the future “attention economy” will have “its own different implicit rules, roles, cycles, values, etc.”3

If everyone has everyone’s attention the value of attention is nullified. Thus to avoid mental bankruptcy, navigating an “attention economy” means saving, investing and being cunningly conscientious of your own attention. If you treated your attention as a monetary value, would you be considered broke, middle class or well-invested?

  1. Simon, H. A. (1971), “Designing Organizations for an Information-Rich World”, in Martin Greenberger, Computers, Communication, and the Public Interest, Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins Press [↩]
  2. Thomas Davenport, John Beck, The Attention Economy: Understanding the New Currency of Business (Harvard Business School Press, 2001), p. 11 [↩]
  3. Michael Goldhaber, The Attention Economy Hypothesis in Brief, http://goldhaber.org/?p=197 [↩]

Thoughts On The Attention Economy

  1. James Shelly is really well worth you attention, I highly recommend subscribing JamesShelley.net
  2. Attention backruptcy is an emotional and mental wasteland, it may well be the epidemic of our time. The content and the platforms I see rising are economic in thier attention demands. Keep content focussed i.e. Tumblr and focus socialisation on enabling the content to be more helpful i.e. Instagram. In other words be respectful and reward attention with great consise value


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