The Future of The Attention Economy

The future of the attention economy - Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly shares his view on what the future of the attention economy holds.

Below are my notes.

We are producing more and more things, a world of abundance.

The one thing that is scarce is our attention, limited to a maximum of 24 hours per day (if you were not to sleep).

Currently, a lot of services are paid for by our attention.

Anything that is supported by advertising is paid for by our attention.

We use our attention to watch an ad which in turn enables the service to be provided at no immediate financial cost to us.

Most things you consume on a screen are paid for by your attention.

Ironically, our attention is very valuable but we surrender it for very little.

For example, if someone sends you an email you read it without too much consideration for the cost of doing so.

Kelly believes giving away our most valuable thing for free is not sustainable.

We will move towards charging for our attention.

For instance, if you want me to watch an ad, you will pay me.

At present, television charges about only $2-$3 an hour for people’s attention.

Kelly sees a future where advertisers and brands are much closer to the final consumer.

This implies cutting out the current intermediaries.

It is already partially happening.

Brands go directly to influencers and pay them to bring their product to the attention of consumers.

This cuts out advertising agencies and media companies.

Another potential avenue is for individuals to curate advertisements.

Anyone with a digital platform could choose products that they like, run their ads and earn some revenue in the process.

Kind of like Adsense but with greater control and input into what ads are shown.

The attention scarcity is challenged by an ever increasing content production.

How do we find the good stuff?

With the gradual disappearance of middle people in the ecosystem, critics/curators/reviewers don’t have the same platforms as they used to.

Recommendation algorithms (think Amazon, YouTube or Netflix) are becoming more important in this context but are not sufficient.

These algorithms tend not to surface ‘unexpected’ recommendations, surprises.

One final consideration for the future of attention is the ability to focus it on creating rather than consuming.

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