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David Tebbutt

To John T Maloney's observation: "Today, another 180 thousand new bloggers come on-stream. That is abundant attention. It’s a staggering level of hyper-connected consciousness."

Erm, is a bunch of blowhards (okay, I'm exaggerating) evidence of an abundance of attention?

Just because you can blow, doesn't mean other people are sucking.


Hi John,

In the post there may be two hyper links missing in the words 'here' in the following sentence.

"the bottom line is that attention becomes critical for production/creation and not just consumption, as I have briefly suggested here and here"

regular readers maybe able to get what you are referring to but helps to fix the link for first tim readers.


Chris Saad

Wow... awesome discussion...

Manual Trackback!

John T. Maloney

Hi --

I think the notion of the attention economy is deeply flawed, specious and wrong in describing the future of business.

I am disturbed by application of neo-classical economics to attention. The modern notion of attention is not scarce by any means, it is enormously abundant.

Yes, if you think of economics as the study of scarcity only, and are nostalgic for the ca 1950s good ol’ days of mass markets and consumerism, then it could be construed that attention is scarce and in need of neo-classical economics to help save the day.

If P&G thinks they can get me to ‘pay’ attention to their new vanilla-flavored toothpaste using their cozy models of yore, then yes, they have an attention management problem.

Economics is a social science. Contemporary Attention is now about relationships, exchange and value, not finding the golden calf. It has been transformed by interconnectedness.

Yesterday, 180 thousand new authors started their blogs. Today, another 180 thousand new bloggers come on-stream. That is abundant attention. It’s a staggering level of hyper-connected consciousness.

When an idea, product or opinion is shared in the context of relationship, the level of attention doubles. It quickly goes exponential. All value resides with the individual. Federate networks are the new attention collaborators.

Of course companies will still ‘push’ mass-market products like hamburgers and pickups during Sunday NFL broadcast. They will cross-their-fingers they get some attention. However, to be more honest to ourselves, this scarce attention has been transformed into a model of sheer ‘pull’ abundance through relationships, networks and value. It is individuated not aggregated. People will opt-in for the promise of community. It is staggering abundance.

[Average Internet user spends 3 hours per day online, almost double the 1.7 hours watching television.]

The meta-enterprise logic of attention scarcity has deeply injured business. All new wealth will originate by accepting the abundance of pull attention, consciousness, relationships, hyper-interconnectedness and value networks.


P.S. It may be we are in violent agreement, it is just that I do not think we have yet the alphabet, vocabulary or language to aptly describe the current and future business dynamic. Using neo-classical economic narrative for attention is faulty.

Bruce Boston

Hi John,

In 'Internet Strategy - Red Ocean or Blue Ocean?' you had some very good criticism for companies like Yahoo, Amazon, eBay, etc...

I'd like to suggest that this very same cautionary language is applicable to attention based economic theory (A_Bet).

- Rather than helping people to connect more effectively with resources across the Web, (A_Bet) seems increasingly focused on aggregating its own resources.

- (A_Bet) is becoming more and more obsessed with advertising revenue and risk losing focus on what is required to add more value to users. Advertising revenue is a dangerous narcotic – it shifts you more and more into a vendor mindset rather than a user mindset.

- (A_Bet) is investing large sums of money on infrastructure, further diverting time and attention away from development of new services for users (infrastructure services like Amazon’s EC2 and S3 are a very different business).

- (A_Bet) seem to be looking more and more at each other and trying to replicate each other’s services rather than focusing on the user and trying to be truly innovative in terms of new services.

In the end, its all A_Bet, the consumer may not be all that happy with.


Adam Carstens

John -

Wonderful post. Just so you know, one of the authors of "The Attention Economy", John Beck, has started a new consulting firm called "The Attention Company" (http://www.attnco.com) which seeks to answer some of these questions you pose. Our tools "AttentionMap" and "AttentionMeter" go to the heart of what you're discussing.

We continue to work on the concept of attention and what it means for both customers and employees. But people may want to log in and try the AttentionMap for themselves at http://www.attentionmap.com. It's a lot of fun.

Tim Buxton


I am just starting in to Lanham's Economics of Attention. I also like it, but I'm really glad I caught your post now, because I was also feeling from checking the index that a lot I would have expected to be dealt with in attention would not be. I guess RSS comes to mind as missing but important to discuss. Also, I really appreciate your blog as a followup to my reading if the Only Sustainable Edge. It pulls so much more together with current developments. I wish that Richard Lanham had a comparable blog as a follow-on. Thanks again.

Eric Mattson


This is a great post. You just filled out my reading list for the next month.


Anne Zelenka

Thanks for a great post and for gathering together such interesting resources.

It is a shame that economics has become so mathematical. In making it more physics-like, academic economists have made it less relevant to the real world.

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