Is this post worth your attention?


Kevin Kelly (2008) states:

‘In short, the money in this networked economy does not follow the path of the copies. Rather it follows the path of attention, and attention has its own circuits.’

In the world of advertising, the trick to being successful is to break through the clutter to sell your product in a way that stands out from all the others. In my opinion, the developing concept of the attention economy within cyberspace could certainly be seen as an interchangeable process with this. While the principle remains the same, the scope of the message goes far beyond the selling of a product. It in the digital sphere, the clutter could be perceived as the plethora of online content, whether is be amongst the millions of daily Tweets, the hundreds of play-by-play life posts by people within your Facebook newsfeed, the incredibly varied points of view expressed through the exponential number of blogs or the hundreds of news stories churned out each day. Each separate piece of content within these networks – of which there are billions – are all competing for the consumers attention to convey a message.

In the long running love affair between advertising and media, things are very complex (as is the case with most love affairs). Advertising is not a very faithful lover, prone to frequent changes in its lovers. Whenever a new and promising medium comes along, advertising flocks to it. This was the case when TV came along and usurped everyone else. But the other media, like radio and print, didn’t die out – instead they carved out their own niches.

Could this analogy be applied to the attention economy of the internet? I certainly think so. For example, Myspace was once the central platform of social networking amongst my group of friends. Everyone was competing for the attention of others through a ‘cool’ background, competition to be in someone’s ‘Top Friends’ was fierce and having the same layout as another person was practically social suicide. But what for? Myspace for many of us is now merely a distant memory, but for others such as those involved in the music industry, it is a key gateway into a world of opportunities – a world of competing for the attention of others.

‘Where there is abundance of information there is scarcity of attention’ (Mitew 2012).

Thus, the moral of the story here is to pay attention to where you pay attention.



Anderson, C. (2004). The Long Tail. Wired, 12.10  [URL:]

Kelly, K. (2008). Better Than Free.[URL:]

Mitew, T 2012, ‘Into the cloud: the long tail and the attention economy’, DIGC202, Global Networks, lecture, delivered Wollongong University, 3rd September.

O’Reilly, T. (2005) ‘What is Web 2.0’ O’Reilly Media.[URL:]

Shirky, C. (2002). Weblogs and the Mass Amateurization of Publishing. [URL:]

Image sourced from: 03/09/2012.


6 thoughts on “Is this post worth your attention?

  1. This is blog takes such a great spin on the topic of this week. Your metaphor of this continual “love affair” is a significant concept in regards to this notion of the economy of the internet. Although as Kelly states in regards to advertising, “I think ads are only one of the paths that attention takes, and in the long-run, they will only be part of the new ways money is made selling the free”, this notion of the unfaithful relationship between advertising and media seems although it will forever continue but may it be the media doing the dirty on advertising?

  2. There is a reason that Facebook has become one of the hottest companies in the past decade. Of course it is a way of communicating with people from all corners of the globe, but what does Facebook actually own? What are its assets? The reason why it is so valuable is because it is the largest free marketing database. The asset that they have is all your information and it states in the terms and conditions that they can do what they like with this information. Henceforth advertisements are catered for your page, companies can find out exactly what makes you tick.

  3. Love the promiscuous metaphor toward advertising haha! The reason groups such as Facebook. Instagram,Tumblr have such financial success is because their value is based upon the colossal size of its content. Essentially, when you post a tweet, change your status, reblog or post a photo on wordpress you are confirming yourself a share in that business. The more content, the more value, the more consumer focused it will become!

  4. Your publication provided a good insight into the attention economy within cyber space. I agree with your point that in marketing, advertising needs to break through the clutter to become successful. This is due to the high saturation of advertising online, however, they do need to stand out as consumers have great control over what advertisements they want to see or not, and have the power to block pop- ups as an example. I do believe that developing attention economy on cyberspace is intrinsically linked with the process advertisers implement. In the development of Facebook, weblogs, and online magazine reviews as an example, people are constantly trying to capture the attention of readers to increase their popularity. However, i think its fair to say that it’s not about the content that is produced on there, it is how they use it. In how they use the content to make it different from the other thousands of people who re doing the same thing is how they will become popular and break through the clutter. I agree with the above post the more content, the more value and the more consumer focused it will become, is all due to how you use it differently that the key element.

  5. Nikki, your post was really thought provoking. I really engaged with the metaphor of the love affair and how advertising is not a faithful lover. It perfectly describes today’s society and the continuing developments surrounding the internet and the ‘latest crazes’. I agree with the above comment; that there is a competition between advertising mediums to capture the potential consumer’s attention. The content has to be different and “outside the box”. Advertising is a competitive industry, and like Ash said, it is primarily about what these advertisers do with the content that counts. This is a long standing love affair and who knows whether a lifelong partner can be found, or will the life of short meaningless flings that advertising leads continue?

  6. Your blog this week has broadened my understanding of the topic. The way you have discussed the issue has changed my whole perception on this week’s topic. I love the metaphor you use; it’s a perfect explanation of the Internet. As you discussed in your blog, radio and print adapted to the change of the Internet to ensure they did not die out. Print went online to continue with the Internet evolution. And radio uploaded podcasts online so people can listen over the Internet on the computer. Advertising is not the only forefront of this new era, and the only way people can keep up is to adapt or die.

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