A new publication at the intersection of media, tech & the digital economy
This post marks the official launch of attentionecono.me, a new publication I envisioned. I intend it to become a place for independent analysis and in-depth coverage of the modern attention economy we live in. I believe that’s an important topic. The attention landscape has started to live through seismic shifts 10–15 years ago. While the process still continuous, maybe even accelerates, we just begin to realize its impact in full.
So let me explain what attentionecono.me is about.
The modern attention landscape
When I talk about the attention landscape, I talk about a complex ecosystem. It consists of (roughly):
- everybody who has some attention span
- the old media aka companies which produce content and own analog distribution channels (newspapers, TV, radio and some others)
- the new media aka companies which provide content online (online publishers, video-on-demand providers, streaming services, game publishers and many more)
- tech companies that own platforms which demand, direct & distribute attention (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flipboard, Nuzzle etc. oh, and of course Medium!)
- advertisers or, more broadly, companies (and their service providers) who want to get the attention of an audience
- entertainment companies aka companies that specialize in creating professional content but don’t own distribution channels (movie studios, TV production companies, music labels, sports leagues etc.)
- people who make a living having an audience’s attention aka people who create and/or provide content (musicians, artists, celebrities, “influencer”, TED speakers, YouTubers, Snapchaters, good old bloggers etc.)
- non-business entities that need or want to address the public (eg. politicians, institutions, organizations)
All these actors are in the game of attention for different reasons. Many for money, some for power, others to entertain or be entertained. Plus, there is a web of relationships between them (though not a static one).
Why it matters
Attention is the currency of the 21st century. Our ancestors had to endure prolonged stretches of boredom. In our modern world, being bored turned into a condition nobody with a smartphone has to be in (for better or worse). Instead, we are just beginning to understand what information overload truly feels like. There is more content and information available than any individual could possibly keep up with. The media industry is the first to learn what it means to transition from an age of scarcity into an era of abundance (apparently it means, among other things, that vending machines give you free stuff in exchange for your participation in a survey).
As a result, audiences are increasingly fragmented and particular. They constitute around niche topics and interests. Mass media is certainly still relevant today. However, young generations lean more heavily towards personalized experiences. This creates all kinds of challenges. Filter bubbles were front and center of the discussion recently. The debate’s underlying question: Can a society work if the common denominator is eroding? Other questions are more mundane but not less fascinating. For instance: What happens to businesses that are predicated on the existence of mass media when there are no mass media?
Why Digital changes the core paradigm of advertisingmedium.com
As all this unfolds, it’s not unlikely that the entire world around us ends up looking quite different from today. Having the public’s attention is very powerful. When it shifts towards a new center — or no center at all —power might shift with it.
The purpose of attention econo.me
The intention behind this publication is to cover and analyze said attention landscape. This can range from writing about a single actor — for instance a particular company — to taking a big picture perspective and highlighting the dynamics at play. And all things in between.
Let’s make that more tangible: attentionecono.me is going to focus on the intersection of media, technology and the digital economy. It will cover important protagonists, provide (hopefully) thoughtful commentary on events and deep analysis. I won’t ignore the related changes in our societies either.
One important premise is expressed in the claim: analyzing the business of attention. While I expect to look left and right of it, the business side will play an important role in the analytical framework applied around here. Why? Because they say follow the money for a reason. Popcultural references aside, understanding the business behind the attention market is key if you want to find out why things happen and where they might go.
In doing so, I aim to provide a space for people who want to understand the attention economy of the 21st century. That includes professionals from all areas of the attention landscape — as well as everybody else who’s interested in the issue. It’s a niche topic, but its implications are huge.
I value transparency. Thus, I think it’s important to let you know what qualifies me to write about these things — and what my deficits are. This allows you to understand my perspective and better classify what you read.
Back in the days I studied public relations and marketing at Universtiy of Bedfordshire business school. For the past 7+ years I had worked as a business consultant at a small consulting boutique focused on digital transformation. I CEO’ed it for 1.5 years. During that time I helped companies from many industries to develop digital strategies, manage the transformation of their business and identify technologies relevant to them. While I worked with a variety of business functions, digital marketing played an important role in many projects.
As a result, I’ve been closely following and analyzing current developments in technology as well as the media for at least 10 years. During that time I’ve continuously written and published — on the internet and offline. You’ll find most of my recent work if you visit my Medium profile.
What I haven’t been, though, is an executive in either tech or media. I guess that renders me a bystander, following the topics and industries I intend to cover here from a (close) distance. You can judge this in two ways: Either as a lack of qualification or as the necessary distance which allows for increased objectivity. That decision is up to you.
Last but not least, let me address some important principles which I aspire to uphold in my writing.
I value an empirical approach that is based on observable facts and data. It’s the opposite of acting from one’s own filter bubble and confirmation biases. In complex domains, this can sometimes be challenging. I regard my readers and their feedback as essential for getting closer to the truth.
Transparency is a wide ranging topic. In this context I want to specifically address that I will disclose any relations I have with people or companies I write about. Secondly, I will always be open and upfront about mistakes I made (which, alas, I can confidently predict to happen).
Understanding systems, critical thinking
My analytical approach is influenced heavily by systems thinking. That is, looking at the relationships and dynamics between things (‘entities’). To me, this has proven to be very valuable in many instances. At the same time, I’m not a slave to any particular method or framework. As I’ve written elsewhere: I regard critical thinking as an essential skill for our future. So I naturally intend to apply it here, first and foremost.