Attention Shoppers in the New Economy

Commons is the way of the future. Information has continually served as important to all aspects of life. In the world today, focusing on developed nations, information has become vital product, highly valuable to those who can utilise information. Commons have been formed as an assemblage, constructing themselves of people distributing and receiving resources while working towards a shared goal (Meretz 2010).

Commons are resources that include natural resources, cultural resources and information that is continually accessible to all participants of society. It has been argued that information and knowledge are consistently a part of the commons. The argument behind this is that knowledge and information should be shared and free primarily because unlike material data information can be transmitted to different communication channels where it is distributed and aggregated. Today Youtube and Wikipedia are examples of commons, designed to be free and distributed to those who seek information. The purpose of this is to improve the level of knowledge in society, in what could be the standardization of the 21t century through Web 2.0

If you have ever seen the movie “The Social Networka scene will come to fruition where a group of Facebook administrators are working within a house in California, playing, drinking and doing a whole bunch of stupid things. Successful corporations around the world like Google and Facebook are symbolised by their non-hierarchical structure, allowing workers and employees a freedom unparalleled to traditional media. This demonstrates the significance of the commons’ concepts and the imbeeded sense of freedom within the idea of the commons.

The commons ideals are fundamental to success in the future through targeting “attention shoppers.” “The currency of the New Economy won’t be money, but attention” (Goldhaber 1997). Goldhaber states the economies of industrialised nations have shifted dramatically where employment focuses around dealing or mangling with information in some form. He calls this the “Information economy.” Over the last several weeks, discussions have occurred between students regarding archives, assemblages and what seems to be an unlimited source of information. Economy refers to the study of the allocation and usage of scarce resources, therefore it is impossible information can be this scarce resource, it is society its self and the attention to mediums, publications and information that serves as the scarce resource. This has lead to an economical shift from what was a material based economic model to what is now know as the Information Economy.

Attention has behaviour and characteristics of its own, it is a system that is not replicated in humans acting as a connection to a global network where without attention we are zombies. Yet, attention does not occur without distraction, a method in which I view as the process, method and event where attention is shifted or manipulated towards something new. What possibly could this something new be? Well while writing this blog I visited Facebook about three times and I also shut the laptop off twice, going to lunch and classes. Attention and distraction act as a simultaneous relationship, working of one another. The system links us to the world and connects us to a network. Advertisers are aware of the economy of information. Techniques targeting human emotion control our attention and change our attitudes towards something. They continually distract me.

But has the information age and the development of what Goldhaber refers to as the ‘New Economy’ affected the process of attention and distraction and has their been social implications because of this? Simply put, the process of attention and distraction is a process which occurs in the mind, it is not a process that I believe has in its true characteristics change however the external environmental factors and features have caused new battles not just between old media and new media but between the new media and itself. Furthermore, Sigmund Freud highlights through his theory people continue to have unconscious motivations which transverse to their conscious state. This is related to how people interact with their desired mediums and influence the focus of attention as well as the distractions, which occur around this formation. However, there are many factors that influence attention and distraction. Memory is key to this theory. Memory allows us to continually be familiar with something. We as humans are constantly distracted to the things we love, distracted to play the sports we love, distracted to go on Facebook while doing work, this is the same as recognition which all act as simple yet integral parts to the theory of attention and distraction.

The ideals of the commons demonstrate their importance when regarding attention and distraction. In the above examples it is demonstrated that creating some distractions while an overhauling focus of attention on particular information provides an effective method for achievement. This is similar to the battle of infotention. “Infotention is a word….to describe the psycho-social-techno skill/tools we all need to find our way online today, a mind-machine combination of brain-powered attention skills with computer-powered information filters.” – Howard Rheingold (2009).

Corporations and companies have continually aimed at targeting the attention of publics through distraction methods towards a certain archive. Therefore the ideals of the commons are an integral part in achieving success in the future. Commons is the way of the future. In my opinion there are the same amount as distraction as there was before technology ever existed, however attention and distraction has been manipulated through the New Economy where commons have formed an assemblage, constructing themselves of people, through distraction and attention, receiving resources while working towards a shared goal.

However, underlying the New Economy is a problem pure in complexity. The development of peer-peer networks where one can distribute information has become a problem and debate source between the economy and the commons. Intellectual property and copy right laws have held the right to gain profits fro the contents they have created, furthermore with these laws being placed on content by professionals it is evident that constructors of content or publications need financial support to maintain their production and publication. With the rise of the New Economy will quality content die?


Michael H. Goldhaber (1997) ‘Attention Shoppers!’, Wired,

Meretz, Stefan (2010) ‘Ten Theses about Global Commons Movement’, P2P Foundation,

NPR (2010) ‘The Price of Putting Your Brain on Computers’,

Rheingold, Howard ‘Infotention Skills: From Information Overload to Knowledge Navigation’,

Rheingold, Howard (2009) ‘Mindful Infotention: Dashboards, Radars, Filters’,SFGate

Yoffe, Emily (2009) ‘Seeking: How the brain hard-wires us to love Google, Twitter, and texting. And why that’s dangerous’ Slate,