Recommended reading today is the Wall Street Journal Online's special feature celebrating 10 years of WSJ.com. The articles are mixed but thought provoking is "Pundits Discuss the Internet's Future", an exchange between Vint Cerf and Esther Dyson. Topics addressed include "mobility", increased Internet ubiquity with less "visibility", turning to trusted sources faced with "information glut", and "IPTV".
Dyson's comments about the "attention economy" captured my attention. She writes:
There's a lot of, er, attention being paid right now to the so-called "attention economy." Indeed, O'Reilly [Media Inc.] subtitled its recent (March) Web 2.0 conference "The attention economy." It even featured author Michael Goldhaber, who wrote about the concept some 14 years ago for my newsletter Release 1.0.
Dyson goes on to argue:
But Mr. Goldhaber's thesis is far more radical, and people aren't really paying ... attention yet. It's that attention has its own intrinsic value, independent of money. People go on the Web in search of attention; they don't want to give it as much as get it. People judge their own worth by their number of friends (Friendster) or fans (MySpace) or business contacts (LinkedIn). They may tell you that they're seeking business success, but oftentimes they seem to value contact lists in the thousands for their own sake.
The topic of the "attention economy" is especially interesting when considered in light of the changing economic models Yochai Benkler describes in his recently released "Wealth of Networks". Digging deeper into Goldhaber's case for the "attention economy" is worthwhile, especially reading the Introduction to his March 8, 2006 slides. He talks of caterpillars and moths, and argues for "the more ethereal-seeming mental currency of attention."
~ Jenny Ambrozek