Etech - The Real Nature of the Emerging Attention Economy

Notes from The Real Nature of the Emerging Attention Economy, by Michael Goldhaber.

The Attention Economy

An economy most generally:
  • is massively multiplayer
  • single level game (rules don't change)
  • passing of scarce entities between players so as to knit players intricately together

Economic history is a multi-level game. When you reach some goal, the game changes, rules change, and goals change.

1st level
Feudal Economy 800 - 1200 [Index of 1]
- knights & vassals
- power grew by winning battles & successful marriages to link you with other vassalages

Market-Money-Industrial 1650 - 1980 [20K]
- gap between 1200-1650 viewed as transition period
- don't think we'll have to wait 4.5 centuries for the next transition

Attention Economy 1980-now [30B]
- new kind of system
- can't think of it in old terms any more than you can think of feudalism in unemployment rates or stock markets

How to calculate the indices of each period (which he made up)?
(Transactions per lifetime) x (pool of people interacted with) x (intensity of interaction)

When enough players in the current level reach their goals because of success, not failure, that's when the level increases.

Each level has new goals, rules, roles, values...but there is no game designer.

Two changes of level so far

Feudal to MMI - success: security - openings: ungoverned city spaces, safe travel, mostly no slavery - lack: material goods - affordances: monasteries and the technologies they created

MMI to Attention
- success: material abundance
- openings: high school, broadcasting, publishing, internet
- lacks: chance to get attention

Aspects of all three levels

Goals: feudal: loyal fiefdoms, security MMI: material goods, money, jobs attention: attention from others

Roles:
feudal: knights & serfs
MMI: Owner, worker / consumer
Attention: star, fan

Moves
feudal: obtaining fiefdoms by winning battles, pledging loyalty, or marriage
MMI: organizing production, selling at a profit, working a job, buying at a good price
attention: performing, creating, seeking

Cycles & Structures

Feudal (Ed: I missed it)

MMI:
work -> earning -> goods
each worker has more than one employer

Attention:
attention -> memory -> more attention
each star has many fans

What is attention?

Attention is scarce & desirable. Having one body can limit how much food you can eat or cars you can drive, but nothing limits amount of attention you could absorb, if you could get it. That means some people will take more than their share, which means there will be intense competition for attention.

Paying attention means heeding, listening, seeing, serving, waiting for or waiting on, repeating, honoring.

Paying attention means allowing another to shape how your mind works.

Is attention about money or time? No . The intensity about the attention you pay is what really counts.

Who owns your attention? Right now, in part, Goldhaber does.

If you pay attention now, Goldhaber will continue to own some part of your attention until you get senile, because some part of us will always remember him.

You can think of attention as owning a kind of property. Property is located in the minds of those who have paid you attention.

Finding meaning in life comes from sharing meanings with others. That can only happen if you get some of their attention.
---

Goldhaber's talk ended before he was able to wrap up, which was disappointing. I feel that he, more than most, was able to key in on several Big Ideas about attention. There's more of Goldhaber's ideas in his paper, The Attention Economy and the Net, his principles of the New Economy, and on Goldhaber's site.

Also, Goldhaber is writing a book on the Attention Economy but there's no listing for it yet, so keep your eyes peeled!

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Hi, I'm Kareem Mayan. I co-founded eduFire, an online video tutoring company.

I've done time at ESPN and FIM.

I advise WorldBlu, helping them build democratic companies.

I moderated a council for Creative Good.

And, I helped bring Barcamp, a technology un-conference, to LA, which is where I live. I am now living and working in cool cities around the world.

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