The cyber currency of attention
We all live in an age where information of all kinds is at our fingertips. We can find a local pizza shop, buy tickets to that sports game and find out what вода means. With all of this information at our fingertips, what on the internet is a scarce resource?
Obtaining attention is obtaining a kind of enduring wealth, a form of wealth that puts you in a preferred position to get anything this new economy offers.
— Michael H. Goldhaber
Instead of living in an economy of information we live in an economy of attention. An economy where people are willing to pay for your attention. During Q2 of 2015 Mark Zuckerberg, commented that the average US consumer spends 40 minutes on Facebook per day. This in itself makes Facebook on of the major holders of this commodity of attention. All facets of social networks use a whole range of techniques to keep you on their sites for longer. Why do they do this? It’s simple, it’s because at the root of it all these websites require retention time by uses to succeed as a business, normally via ad revenue.
The real question comes down to, is this a problem? Is it a problem that websites, applications and our phones are taking up more of our attention? A study by Gloria Mark, of the University of California, found that typical office worker gets only 11 minutes between each interruption, while it takes an average of 25 minutes to return to the original task after an interruption. This means that this attention economy does not only entail a constant battle to get our attention but it also leads to us having less time to put our attention into other things.
This has always been a concern however. British autors have been writing about this for years. George Orwell and Aldous Huxley are two such individuals.
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.
— Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business