Attention Economy and the Web Terry Wang 01/12/2007
Agenda Working model of Attention Economy Material things reinterpreted
What do we have now on the web
What is Attention Economy “ ...in an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it” -- 1971, Herbert Simon
The shift is happening Minerals, volcanoes, sea water, chemicals Physics, chemistry, geology Molecular biology, physiology, ecology Life What do we get: The whole world demand a new way of thinking.
The shift is happening The economic laws are not timeless. They hold true in a particular periods and in a particular kind of space. The net brings us to a period when billions of people can interact at the same time. This is different from what we prevailed for the last few centuries. Back to 15 th century, Europe is still ruled on feudal lines. Following Columbus’s discoveries, the feudal lords tend to think they can apply the same feudal economy to the newly discovered continents.
The capitalist, market-based industrial economy eventually grew so strong in North America and dominate back to Western Europe.
Driving forces of Attention economy Information would be an impossible basis for an economy because economics are governed by what is scarce, and information, especially on the net, is overflowing. Having someone’s attention, one can covert it into a physical actions , like raising their hands. Everyone must have some attention to survive. The potential driving force: Having attention is very desirable.
Attention is difficult to get owing to its intrinsic scarcity.
Working model of Attention Economy
Chatting, but not necessarily about anything A conversation is more an exchange of attention than convey information. “ How are you?” “ What do you do?” “ Where are you from?”
In every conversation, the exchange of attention normally must be kept equal if one party or the other isn’t likely to lose interest.
Illusory attention By setting up some expectations in advance, the speaker seems to be fulfilling each individual’s needs and paying attention personally to everybody. Illusory attention helps create an apparent equality of attention and it can go beyond that to create a feeling obligation on the listeners part. In some special circumstances, asymmetry exists between two parties of a conversation. Attention Illusory attention
Characteristics o f Attention Attention flows both ways Attention can be passed
Attention Transactions We are involving more attention transactions than monetary transactions.
“ We are living in a temporary attention economy in miniature right at this moment.”
Working model Based on endless originality New Economy The inter-changeability is no longer possible . Attention doesn’t come in precise, indistinguishable units, neither does the illusory attention for which it is exchanged. Based on the simultaneous inter-changeability of units of money and standardized goods. Old Economy
1 dollar = 1 dollar; 1 quart milk = 1 quart milk
Money and Attention In a pure attention economy, money has no essential function , no real role to play. But during the transaction, the connection between money and attention is significant. Money now flows along with attention. Money flows to attention, and much less well does attention flows to money. The old kind of wealth easily flows to the holders of the new. Money cannot reliably buy attention. You have to do more, that is to offer illusory attention
Sometimes the monetary wealth can draw attention to you. But the price of such fame keeps going up further expectations.
Material things reinterpreted
A material economy falls victim to its own success
Material things reinterpreted If an attention economy is limited to a conference, the material things such as snack or a sandwich come from outside the system If the whole world is an attention economy, then making material goods can be a direct act of attention paying
Since everyone needs some attention to survive, you have to exchange some food (illusory attention) by paying real attention to the people who provides food to you
What does organization mean to individuals “ Getting attention is of primary value to individuals rather than organizations, and attention also flows from individuals” Organization attentions attentions attentions pass
People tend to use the organization as a platform . Upon it, they can attract as wide as audience as they can manage.
Breakdown of organization barriers Companies will have less definite and fixed structure Company A Company B Company C A virtual community Stars & entourages
Organization becomes the individuals and the network between them
Role of the web The web is a better and better means of transmitting and circulating attention, a circulation that is essential for a full-fledged economy to emerge movies music communities blog videos photos books comments attentions attentions attentions attentions
Individual attention getters of all sorts will find it ever easier to get attention directly through the web (blogs, communities, videos, music, etc)
What do we have now on the Web
The rapid growth of information causes scarcity of attention.
The concepts It is a simplified version of the general attention economy It facilitates a marketplace where consumers agree to receives services in exchange for their attention (From read/write web)
The ultimate purpose is of course sell something to the consumer, but the selling does not need to be direct and does not need to be instant (News feeds)
The concepts (cont.) Two key ingredients in the game:
Recommendation engines AttentionTrust
Implicit web When we surf the Internet, we leave traces . Sometime explicitly via bookmarking, rating and digging. But most often, implicitly The Implicit Web is powered by clicks . Simply because our gestures and actions reveal our intent and reactions. Typically, software that powers recommendation engines or search engines takes clicks, time and actions as inputs and feeds them into a sophisticated optimization algorithm. Usually, the algorithm assigns weights to different input parameters and then outputs a verdict – e.g. how much the user liked or disliked something. Yet, consumers are not aware of the implicit web.
Do consumers really control their own attention?
AttentionTrust The whole attention economy marketplace needs participants to follow some rules defined by an independent entity. The simple, elegant principles made by AttentionTrust: Property : You own your attention and can store it anywhere. You have CONTROL. Mobility : You can securely move your attention wherever you want, whenever you want. You have the ability to TRANSFER your attention. Economy : You can pay attention to whomever you wish and receive value in return. Your attention has WORTH.
Transparency : You can see exactly how your attention is being used.
Technology feasibility The key is to decouple attention capturing, attention storage and attention recording services. (From read/write web)
Another key is putting the users in control : what to store, where to store, who can use the stored information, etc.
Challenges ahead Silos : User information needs to be freed from proprietary silos. Round Table : The industry needs to create a round table, to enable organizations to govern both the business and technical aspects of the attention economy.
Education : People need to be educated about the value of their attention and the principles of attention economy. Avoiding privacy concerns will not work, instead they need to be tackled head on.
Have a better transmission (to close) Money will lose its importance.
Get yourself some kind of attention just like some authors begin to put their pictures on the covers of books.