The attention economy

A very short introduction

Hi there,

In 2019, Instagram reportedly generated $20 billion in ad revenue, surpassing YouTube by 5 billon dollars. What exactly is a photo sharing social media app like Instagram selling to generate billions of dollars in revenue annually? Attention, the new mode of currency. The business model of the attention economy is pretty straightforward: harvest attention for marketing and advertising purposes. But, it’s beyond advertisement. It is data-driven, psychologically-engineered attention harvest.

Below are five things I thought were worth sharing this week:

  1. A while back, I wrote a very lengthy and super detailed article on the attention economy. Honestly? Even I don’t read super long articles on the web anymore. I don’t have the attention span for it (Oops…) So, in all fairness, I’ve decided to repost the article in four parts, with minor edits for ease of readability. Starting with a very short introduction to the attention economy.

  2. I read Micheal Goldhaber’s 1997 article Attention Shoppers! a while back. Goldhaber predicted over two decades ago that “the currency of the New Economy won't be money, but attention.” Back then, it was “a radical theory of value.” Now? Well…

  3. One of the best introductory video on the attention economy: The Attention Economy - How They Addict Us by Will Schoder on YouTube. Informative, insightful, and entertaining, all in a 10-minute video. Enjoy!

  4. A quote I want to share with you this week:

    “Attention is a limited resource, so pay attention to where you pay attention.”
    — Howard Rheingold.

    This got me thinking, what do I want to pay attention to in 2021?

  5. Back when I first began obsessing about what social media and the Internet was doing to my attention, I stumbled upon Mark Manson’s article In The Future, Our Attention Will Be Sold, where Manson argued the attention economy has commoditized our time and turned us into products to be bought and sold.

That’s all for this week!

Hello 2021. Happy New Year, y’all!

Thank you for reading, and please share with anyone you think may benefit.


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Until next time,


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