The Attention Economy

The internet has changed the formula for mounting a crusade. Before the internet if you had a cause that you wanted to advocate you first refined your message. You practiced your pitch until you perfected it. You practiced it by speaking to anyone who would listen. You spoke to them individually. You spoke to small groups. You spoke to groups as big as you could muster.

As you started getting your message down pat, you’d start gathering an organization that would help you to get the message out. They’d help you organize and plan. They’d book you on speaking tours to give your pitch to as many people as possible. It took a significant commitment and investment in time and effort.

Now you make comments off the cuff. You post 140 character sound bites on twitter. You don’t need a large organization. You don’t even particularly need any large commitment in time or energy. You can tweet anywhere while you’re doing anything.

What’s more, you don’t even need to attract followers who agree with you.  The only necessary thing is attention. If you can capture and hold people’s attention you can influence them in ways they will neither be aware of or perhaps even approve of. And it’s all because of the instant, inexpensive communication that the internet provides.

I leave it as an exercise for the reader to figure out how this relates to economic matters. But let me be clear, you should be scared. You should be very scared

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.