top of page

The Attention Economy - How They Addict Us

Will Schoder | 10:59


 Hmm, that's not a bad photo. Laura posted a new album, a new video from John Oliver. Look at all these other videos. A new follower on Twitter. A few hot takes from the debate last night. This guy has a Wikipedia page. Oh, he grew up near New York. I grew up near New York. Just catch up on Instagram. Texts from mom, texts from dad.

Hey dad, watch this kid shoot a firework at his. Send. Holy shit. Holy shit. It's been 40 minutes. Every time I look up after being stuck in my phone like this, I know it's going to happen again, and most of the time I don't feel great about it. This is what it's like being a part of the attention economy.

In his famous 1997 wired article, attention Shoppers, theoretical Physicist, Michael Gold Harbor, states that the economics of industrialized nations, especially that of the United States, have dramatically shifted. An increasing number of workers are no longer involved directly in the production, transportation, and distribution of material goods, and instead earn their living, managing, or dealing with information in some form.

Most call this an information. But he rejects that label, by definition, economics of the study, of how a society uses its scarce resources. And with the internet, our scarcity is definitely not information. Any piece of information you want. What products should you buy, what restaurants should you go to?

Who's this guy? All of that is literally seconds away. So what does Gold Harbor think flows through cyberspace. And is scarce and desirable as he explains. No one would put anything on the internet without the hope of obtaining some. It's called attention and the economy of attention, not information is the natural economy of cyberspace, and he's right.

Information consumes our attention, making it a scarce resource. We only have so many hours that we can glue ourselves to technology and the infinity of information it presents. We live in this attention economy where you succeed by getting people to spend the most. Time to allocate their attention to you or your product, and you dominate the economy.

Download Transcript

bottom of page