Monthly Archives: December 2009


The Economy of Attention by Georg Franck, AutoSummarized at 7% in MS Word:

Attention by other people is the most irresistible of drugs. Circulation size and TV ratings are measures of the attention drawn by a particular medium. The supply of advertising space is an offer to attract attention via a service rendered. Nothing seems to attract attention more than the accumulation of attention income, nothing seems to stimulate the media more than this kind of capital, nothing appears to charge advertising space with a stronger power of attraction than displayed wealth of earned attention. Prominent individuals are needed en masse if one wants to make the attraction of attention a mass business. A mass medium must not be delicate in its choice of means in catching attention. By contrast, an author working for attention wages cannot avoid being delicate in this respect: only attention earned for something one personally identifies with counts as personal income. The attention incomes earned in show business and publishing are sizeable. The leading mass medium, private television, finances itself exclusively by selling the service of catching attention for anything whatsoever. The attention which the media re-lend is unilaterally donated by the people sitting in front of pages or screens. An inevitable consequence of this asymmetric exchange is the social redistribution of attention incomes. It is not as if exchanging information for attention were unfair in principle. The fine difference between money income and attention income lies in the fact that in the case of attention it is not irrelevant from whom it emanates. Quotations of the share prices of attention are not only influenced by a person’s current attention income, they also incorporate expected future attention income. Since it is the expected amount of attention which determines a person’s presence in a medium, the media themselves are not only reloading points of the mass business in attention, they also act as exchanges assessing the value of capital denominated in attention currency. Attention economy reached its early industrial phase when the first, relatively simple information and communication technologies developed. Not at all just by volume of attention turnover are the media big industry.

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