Attention Economy Primer

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* Online Primer: The Attention Economy Primer. By Daniel Estrada.



"This guide introduces newbies to some basic lectures and resources on the attention economy. Far from being comprehensive, this guide focuses on recent, cutting edge contributions to this great conversation, sorted into rough categories for ease of use. I hope that this primer sketches a picture of the social, political, and economic stakes of perhaps the most radical restructuring of social organization that humanity has ever dared to undertake, and of the science that has made it possible."



"As the Wikipedia page notes, Herbert Simon first suggested attention management as a method for dealing with information abundance in the 1970's, as part of his research program into complexity and cybernetic organization. "The Attention Economy" secured its place in mainstream business and marketing jargon after Davenport and Beck's 2001 book by the same name. Since then, attention management has played a central role in the basic principles of web and game design, and is fundamental to social media management and internet advertising. Overviews have been written to keep people on track, like this 2007 overview from ReadWriteWeb or this 2011 link repository at On the Spiral. Such overviews tend to treat the attention economy (and it is always the attention economy, never an attention economy) as a mix of business strategy and design philosophy.

The complexity sciences have matured a great deal since Simon's pioneering work. We are in a better position today to model, predict, visualize, and indeed manipulate the dynamics of complex systems than we were even a decade ago. These technological advances come on the heels of incredible progress in mathematics and computer science, a paradigm which has come to be called "Big Data" by the media and has attracted significant government and research interest. This paradigm has broad application, from modeling the dynamics of climate change to building computational models of the brain. Big data is helping to understand the structural properties of proteins, ecosystems, and the cosmic background radiation. Big data is also helping us understand the complex dynamics of human social, political, cultural, and economic relationships. When big data is leveraged against human organizational structure, the result is a model of the attention economy." (