The attention economy

I link to Rob Paterson so often that I sometimes think I should just put a boilerplate notice here telling all readers to go to his blog first.

Rob has picked up on an article by Michael Goldhaber which argues that the ability to create attention is the way to create wealth in the information economy. Rob gives some long extracts; here’s the central argument:

Information, however would be an impossible basis for an economy for one simple reason: economies are governed by what is scarce, and information, especially on the Net, is not only abundant, but overflowing. We are drowning in the stuff, and yet more and more comes at us daily. That is why terms like “information glut” have become commonplace, after all.

There is something else that moves through the Net, flowing in the opposite direction from information, namely attention. So seeking attention could be the very incentive we are looking for.

Goldhaber focuses on the need for attention (in Rob’s extracts the focus is on getting it – I think we need to think about paying it, too); Paul Hawken talks about the scarcity of meaning. I think they’re both on the right lines – we need to think less about information and more about a deeper connection.

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