Monday, July 11, 2005

economy of attention

I was sitting the living room reading the National Post this evening. I recently gained a new respect for the National Post upon discovering that while they do not print the New York Times crossword puzzle they do print the daily sudoku. Decisions, decisions. I saw an article on blogs in the financial section and was intrigued. The article turned out to be asking if anyone is ever going to make any money on blogs (what an original question). But part way through there was a very interesting quote.

The author quoted Dick Costello, CEO of FeedBurner as saying that "In an economy of attention, the advertisers and marketers will follow eyeballs."

I thought that was such an interesting way to view the world 'an economy of attention'. It makes so much sense. There has been a lot said lately about the Information Age and the Information worker. Gerry McGovern would have us believe that the Information worker must soon give way to the content manager (and as a content manager, I'd like to think he's right :) However, all the information in the world is useless if you can't get and keep people's attention, at least long enough to pass the info along.

What is eloquence worth if no one is listening? What are ideas if no one can understand? For some reason it made me think of receptors on cells (maybe because one of Kendra's bio texts is here on the desk.) But I was thinking of cell receptors and how if the receptors are blocked or missing or broken, there can be all the chemicals in the world available but they'll never enter the cell.

I work on a group of 22 websites and we are always asking the question "what is the message?" but in this analogy, the message is the chemical. Shouldn't we be asking "what is the receptor?" not so much how do we get the message to them, but how do we help them hear what we are saying? I was talking to my Dad earlier this evening and he reminded me that the cardinal rule of public speaking is this "when you've lost the audience's attention, stop speaking."

In an economy of attention, even if the medium is the message, does it matter? Do we just broadcast as far and wide as possible and hope that someone turns our way or is their a way to help them hear? Do we get their attention first, and then start talking?

1 comment:

Mandy said...

ahem!! that's 24 websites... ;)