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.



Technology is like air; we live and breathe it and would ‘die’ without it. In modern times, technology infiltrates our lives. I witnessed an example of this today at Subway. While waiting in the line to order, an eight year old paid for his Subway with a debit card before answering a call on his iPhone. I don’t know why, but this terrifies me. This very action caused me to reflect upon what I was doing when I was 8 – and it certainly was not that.

It seems that our reliance on these global communication networks, particularly through the growth of the Internet and cyberspace, has developed a type of infatuation with technology itself. In my eyes, it could be portrayed as a romantic novel, where the internet promised it’s user to end individual isolation and foster inter-societal understanding – how romantic. Similar to the idea underlying the dream of global harmony and world peace, the idea underlying the dream of mediated proximity is that the availability of more communication contributes to the enhancement of social relations. But does this novel have the ‘happily ever after’ ending that we romantics are really looking for?

Kelly (1999) iterates that one by one, each of the things that we care about in life is touched by science and then altered. Human expression, thought, communication, and even human life have been infiltrated by high technology. But can this romanitically infatuated embryonic dependence (as seen in today’s subway situation) be deemed as healthy for society? If communication is the foundation of society, of our culture, of our humanity, of our own individual identity, and of all economic systems, yet all of these aspects are now focused online, can they be considered as part of our physical reality, or are they merely virtual reality?


Barlow, J.P. (1996) A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace [URL:

Dyson, E., Gilder, G., Keyworth, G., Toffler, A. (1994) Cyberspace and the American Dream: A Magna Carta for the Knowledge Age [URL:

Mitew, T 2012, The Network Scoiety, DIGC202, Global Networks, University of Wollongong, delivered 6 August.