Attention Economy

November 4, 2018

In a conversation with Sam Harris on the Waking Up podcast, journalist Matt Taibbi mentions how the role of journalism has shifted into the realms of entertainment, driven by the sheer quantity of news out there. It’s one instance of how attention gets trapped. And the span to hold the attention gets shorter and shorter.

Herbert A. Simon, nobel-laureate in 1978, coined the term of “attention economics” when he wrote

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.

A quote from the paper Designing Organizations for an Information-Rich World, p. 40, published in 1971 where Facebook, Instagram, Fox News et. al were not invented yet.

Where do we want to invest our attention?