04 April 2011

May I have your attention, please?

I was just reading a brilliant piece of writing by Richard Lanham: The Economics of Attention.  His basic premise is that although we refer to this as the "information age," information is not the scarce resource--in fact, as Lanham states:
"Information doesn't seem to be in short supply.  Precisely the opposite.  We're drowning in it.  There is too much information around to make sense of it all.  Everywhere we look, we find information overload."
Lanham goes on to say that though the backbone of our economy has transitioned from material "stuff" to immaterial "fluff," the main currency is not information--it is attention.  The scarce resource that everyone is vying for is the aggregated hearts and minds of people--hoping to carve out a space in the collective consciousness.

It is an interesting thought that in today's world where there is so much value is in immaterial things--intellectual property, digital content, lines of code--which many people can concurrently possess (unlike, say, a gold mine or a steel mill), that the way we really purchase things is with our attention.  It makes me think that maybe I should be a little more judicious in the way I (quite literally) spend my time and pay attention.

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