Attention Economics and Digital Conversations
Attention economics is generally known as an approach to the management of information that treats human attention as a scarce commodity.
It is based on the observation that, as we are inundated with information and products, attention - rather than money - becomes the scarcest resource and where we choose to allocate this attention will increasingly determine what creates economic value.
One of the first persons to publicly discuss this phenomenon was the Nobel prize winner Herbert Simon in an article published in 1971:
“...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.”
In the 90s, Michael H. Goldhaber and Thomas H. Davenport expanded on this subject by highlighting that although at the beginning of the information age we were repeatedly told that the new economy was based on information, the basic concept of economics is that economies are governed by what is scarce, and information in the digital age is not only widely available, it is the new ocean we swim in.
According to Goldhaber, information therefore cannot, in a scholastic sense, be the basis for the new economy. So what is the scarcest resource in an era of overabundant information? What scarce resource does information consume and take away? Information consumes attention!
And attention is an intrinsically scarce resource.
If you look at your daily life, you will probably see that the most of the decisions you make every day - and increasingly so - concern where your attention should go. It is an issue every time you receive an email, a chat, a Facebook message, a newsletter, perform a search on Google, select a form of entertainment etc. (and you may often do all of these at the same time). You may notice that the decisions you make are increasingly more concerned with where to place your attention than, for example, where to place your money.Continued on the next page