Imagining Mus: An Attention-Action Currency (Part 2)

Attention Economy – 1

We are living in what is called the Attention Economy.

Wikipedia: “Attention economics is an approach to the management of information that treats human attention as a scarce commodity and applies economic theory to solve various information management problems. According to Matthew Crawford, “Attention is a resource—a person has only so much of it.” In this perspective Thomas H. Davenport and John C. Beck define the concept of attention as: “Attention is focused mental engagement on a particular item of information. Items come into our awareness, we attend to a particular item, and then we decide whether to act.” As content has grown increasingly abundant and immediately available, attention becomes the limiting factor in the consumption of information.”

Berkeley Economic Review: The term “attention economy” was coined by psychologist, economist, and Nobel Laureate Herbert A. Simon, who posited that attention was the “bottleneck of human thought” that limits both what we can perceive in stimulating environments and what we can do. He also noted that “a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”…Our attention has always been limited, valuable, and scarce. But what distinguishes the present day is that technological advances have made an overwhelming amount of information available, strategically aimed at capturing our attention. As for the general public, it has never been easier to garner such personal levels of attention though means like social media.”

Michael Goldhaber in 1997: “If the Web and the Net can be viewed as spaces in which we will increasingly live our lives, the economic laws we will live under have to be natural to this new space. These laws turn out to be quite different from what the old economics teaches, or what rubrics such as “the information age” suggest. What counts most is what is most scarce now, namely attention. The attention economy brings with it its own kind of wealth, its own class divisions – stars vs. fans – and its own forms of property, all of which make it incompatible with the industrial-money-market based economy it bids fair to replace. Success will come to those who best accommodate to this new reality.”

Nielson Norman Group: “Many services online are offered for free. In the attention economy, attention is not only a resource but a currency: users pay for a service with their attention. Today, the dynamics of the attention economy incentivize companies to draw users in to spend more and more time on apps and sites. Designers who create sites and apps understand that their products vie for the limited resource of users’ attention in a highly competitive market.”

Asher Joy in Business Today Online Journal: “In the past, we were the customers, now, our attention has become the product. In the so-called “attention economy”, our attention is constantly bombarded with information, from social media, television, or news sources, such that it is difficult for one particular information source to truly captivate our attention and influence us. An easily distracted audience means that marketers must devise new strategies, whether that be through addictive/engaging UI or through social media “influencers”, to endorse their products in order to stand a chance in this new economy. As a result, human attention has become commodified, and harvesting this attention is now an integral part of the revenue generation strategy implemented in numerous business models. Essentially, the attention economy is fed by a vicious cycle in which we are the product of the attention economy yet also the customer who is unknowingly manipulated into reinforcing it.”

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.