Howard Rheingold first coined the term infotention – a portmanteau of attention+information+intention.
Rheingold, Goldhaber, Erard and many other academics have wondered whether information overload in a digital age has been the cause for the depletion or distraction of our attention.
The internet is a space where an infinite amount of information is produced, stored and waiting for us to engage with. Search engines help us filter some of that information to find what we need. However, our attention is what’s needed to make use of it. There exists an almost survival of the fittest to grab our attention and steer us in their direction.
The information superhighway is an understatement of the gargantuan digital realm it has evolved into. Information is created and transferred in a blink of an eye, but our attention is limited. The rapid pace with which information is uploaded is almost too overwhelming for our attention spans. It has to entice us, capture us and keep us.
Is attention the economy of cyberspace? Will our attention be used to commodify the flow of information?
Michael Erard writes about attention festivals whereby information commodities are priced according to cognitive investment. Things that require a longer attention span would be cheaper than those requiring a shorter one.
Mike O’Malley makes a counter-argument claiming “too much information” could just be the freedom of necessity. Attention is a human constant, which continuously seek new forms. It’s just a matter of inventing new ways to grab our attention that is needed.
It could be that the flow of attention will replace the flow of money. Does all information carry the same weight? What constitutes useful information? Is attention the value to which we can accord the importance of particular information over other kinds of information?
Attention-grabbing government program to save the economy
Information then and now?