Dec 082008

I have long maintained that paying attention to someone (or that person’s expression) amounts to aligning your mind to that someone’s. In seeing the world from their point of view, you partially “become” them. This can be through listening to and trying to understand their sentences, through reading something they have written, through looking at a picture or work of art that they have created, through watching them play a game such as golf or [...]

Feb 192008

This is supposed to be the era of knowledge. Yet I think we should be increasingly worried that it is in fact even more the era of ignorance. The two are in some ways complementary. An expert has long been known, at least by cynics, as someone who “knows more and more about less and less.” That means that even experts — as well as the rest of us — also know less and less [...]

Dec 062007

In a recent post, Gwen Bell cites my work as a partial basis for her thoughts about “personal branding.” She has some sensible suggestions, but I think the idea of personal branding — common though it is — gets things backwards. 1. Meet the Smith Brothers, Trade and Mark Of course, most of us know or would recognize hundreds or even thousands of brands: Heinz Ketchup, Toyota Prius, Apple iPod, AT&T, Hilton Hotels, Pepsi, Dr. [...]

Oct 242007

0. Preface In this and the next few installments, I will be addressing a number of connected ideas: the changing role in our lives of material things; the changing nature of firms; the rise of what I shall term hyper-creativity; how it interacts with slower moving institutions such as government; some examples; and the connection of all these with advertising.  All these are involved in the change from what I will now call the “Money-Thing [...]

Oct 222007

As readers of this blog already know, I first came up with the phrase “Attention Economy” to describe the entirely new kind of economic system that I see as increasingly dominating our lives. It is an economy in the sense that it involves allocating of what is most scarce and precious in the present period, namely the attention that can come to each of us  from other human beings. As you also know, ever since [...]

Sep 172007

A couple of years ago, the philosophy professor Harry Frankfurt made publishing history of a sort by allowing his 7,000-word paper “On Bullshit” — which lives up pretty well to the second word in its title — to be published as a book. Bind some printed pieces of paper together, preferably in hard covers, distribute them via bookstores, at a cost of around $20, and voila, you have a book. If you choose not buy [...]

Aug 172007

——Part I of a review of (and riff on) Andrew Keen’s the cult of the amateur. A hundred and eleven years ago, the “modern” Olympic games were born, emphasizing what could have been criticized as a conservative “cult of the amateur.” There were strict rules that only pure amateurs could compete, which meant, of course, that only people of independent means could enter. This neatly kept out representatives of the “great unwashed” or, in other [...]

Jul 162007

Friendship might be defined as a state of more-or-less mutual attention paying. From little acts of attention, including times when you just are together, talking, walking, or engaging in some joint activity your minds get into sync so that you can align easily (that is pay attention)  to what the other is saying or doing, feeling or thinking. Long friendship makes attention all that much easier and full. No wonder people clamor for friends, and [...]

Jun 272007

It probably does no good at this late stage, but let me cry foul one more time. I coined the term “Attention Economy” twenty years ago to refer to a completely new kind of economic system — one not based on material goods nor money but rather on the passing around of what is both unavoidably scarce and desirable in unlimited amounts, namely  ….TA DAA… the attention that can come only from other human beings. [...]

Jun 252007

Recently, I happened on an obituary in the NY Times for Rudolph Arnheim, who died at 102. It turned out he had done interesting work on the psychology of visual thinking and visual attention. Since, I have been reading some of his essays. One point he makes [New Essays in the Psychology of Art, p. 78] is that when we are fully absorbed in something, we do not notice time passing. If you are particularly [...]