The Attention Economy — a radical theory of money

From Michael Goldhaber (interesting name to be writing about money)’s article in Wired

Goldhaber proposes that attention be the new currency, or at least the base item.

Attention is a human need, and intrinsically limited in supply.

Unlike money, it comes in many forms, some negative.

The attention economy is also a star economy.

in The Winner-Take-All Society, a book by economists Robert H. Frank and Philip J. Cook. The authors note that the star system we are accustomed to in sports, entertainment, and the arts has migrated to the professions. As a September 3, 1997, front-page headline in The Wall Street Journal announced, “CEOs are stars now.” That’s how they are paid, hired, utilized, and dismissed. They operate within their companies more as attention-getting motivators than bosses. The same goes for rainmaking legal partners, high-powered lobbyists, and academics.

And how does attention turn into material goods, say a car?

The car is no longer assembled from parts on one long assembly line; rather, subassemblies are often put together in different locations first. At every stage, more and more tasks are automated; that means more of the attention required to make a car occurs upstream as part of design and production planning.

It is not difficult to foresee a time when it will make a lot more sense to speak of a complex carmaking community [than a corporation] made up mostly of entourages surrounding thousands of stars and microstars. As is common among entourages, much participation would be less than full time, and the majority of members would belong to other communities as well, and even to other entourages.

Thus many people in the broad car community will also share membership in some of the same communities of attention as anyone who might want a car. As long as the person in question gets enough attention, she would almost certainly be able to draw enough from overlaps between her primary communities and the car community to arrange to be put into the driver’s seat she craves. Assuming automation keeps cutting the total amount of actual attention needed to make each individual car, less and less stardom will be required to end up with one.

In cyberspace, there is nothing natural about large-scale divisions like cities, nations, bureaucracies, and corporations. The only divisions, and rough ones at that, are among audiences, entourages, and what could be called attention communities. Each community is centered on some topic and usually includes a number of stars, along with their fans. Attention flows from community to community. Below this primary exchange will flow the less important exchange of goods and materials.


Posted on July 16, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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