Is attention finite?

“Attention economics starts with the observation that, as products and information proliferate, attention becomes the scarce resource … we each have only 24 hours in the day. Where we choose to allocate this attention will increasingly determine who creates economic value and who destroys economic value.” #

He provides some insightful advice for an executive in the attention economy: #

“The attention economy is surfacing around us today … it is not some distant future. As with most economic trends, those who spot them and act on them early are most likely to create significant value. Here are some early action items: #

Hagel’s arguments are valid, but this view sounds a too narrowminded to me. He’s proposing a way to make tomorrow’s new business models backwards compatible with today’s business models. #

3 thoughts on “Is attention finite?”

  1. Interesting post Matt.

    Another consideration on the question of the ‘finiteness’ of our attention is the notion of the progress we are making toward ‘the singularity’. Even if Kurzweil is only a bit right, our attention capacity as individuals is destined to expand exponentially, and soon. If Kurzweil is very right in his predictions, then it might turn out that the whole business of attention will be only game in town…

  2. Hey Matt,

    Nice post!

    My 2 cents….

    If their were some kind of Moore’s law of Attention where a user’s ability to expand their attention was constant, then I would agree that attention is not finite. However, while abstraction may give us a bump in attention efficiency, you will still bump up against the finite time limit of 24 hours in a day – just at a higher fixed level.

    My take is that user attention is finite. It’s scarce and it’s saturated.

    “We see this now in the way media properties charge advertisers a fee for the cost of reaching valuable eyeballs. But advertisers are forever chasing people to get their attention. They are always paying for the inefficiencies in the market. And media properties are motivated to retain inefficiencies in order to capitalize on that friction. This business model locks companies on both sides into the status quo.”

    What you describe here is a huge symptom of the Attention problem. Marketers spend $300B/yr to broadcast 3000 marketing messages a day to every US consumer. Could abstraction allow us to expand our Attention and absorb more?

    Is more more or is less more? I think abstraction can help us with the latter.

    “The opportunity, on the other hand, is vast for those who are able to alter our viewpoints and abstract the way we understand information. It’s about offering new methods to communicate and taking advantage of the methods that are already infinitely fluid. The supply of attention can be limitless when the barriers are removed and the right lubricant is applied.”

    I think you are talking about influence and efficiency here and not attention supply??

    Attention discussions always seem to move to the abstract… fun discussion! Thanks!

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