Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Herbert Simon, who Wikipedia tells me was one of the most influential social scientists of the 20th century, once said:

"...in an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it."

Simon, H. A. (1971), "Designing Organizations for an Information-Rich World", in Martin Greenberger, Computers, Communication, and the Public Interest, Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins Press, ISBN 0-8018-1135-X., p. 40-41.

That seems to be an incredibly insightful statement considering the overwhelming amount of information that we are bombarded with today. 500+ TV channels, email, IM, text messaging, ubiquitous broadband connections, ubiquitous advertising... It's no wonder that Attention Deficit Disorder is on the rise.

I love being connected. I love learning random things here and there. I'm sure many of you reader(s) will agree. But, by being connected we are creating a profile of what captures our Attention.

Marketers, obviously, understand the concept of Attention very well. They would like to understand what has the attention of their target markets and how they can somehow get a piece of that attention. When you are connected, particularly in this new Web 2.0 social networking world, who is watching when you blog, or microblog, or IM, or purchase, or click? And how does your past activity affect what you are presented with in the future?

By choosing to participate in Web 2.0 services, you are, to some degree, agreeing to allow your web footprint to be tracked. Is Attention tracking a bad thing? How does a consumer win in an environment where their Attention is being tracked? How can a consumer manipulate their Attention information to their own benefit?

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