The term attention economy refers to the range of economic activities based on people’s attention being treated as a scarce and highly desirable resource to be captured and maintained.
In attention economy, attention primarily refers to user engagement with digital products, which equates to revenue and influence for those who capture and maintain it.
The term is typically used in reference to online contexts and the fact that many tech companies’ revenue is primarily based on advertising and data gathering, both of which require sustained user engagement.
For this reason, websites, apps, and platforms are designed using psychological principles to constantly promote and reinforce this engagement. Some of the most visible methods are interfaces and notifications that prompt or entice users to create and consume content and interact with other users.
Those who use the term are often critical of the attention economy and its effects on individuals and society. The idea of the attention economy is related to and often overlaps with surveillance capitalism, in which personal data is a central commodity.
WHERE DOES ATTENTION ECONOMY COME FROM?
The term attention economy was coined by political scientist Herbert A. Simon, who began using it by at least the early 1970s. Simon suggested that people’s attention was a limited, valuable resource that could potentially be used for economic gain.In 1997, writer and researcher Michael Goldhabar expanded on the idea of the attention economy, predicting that the internet would incentivize and prioritize the capturing of users’ attention, and that such practices would become the foundation of online economics.
WHO USES ATTENTION ECONOMY?
The term attention economy is most often used by those who are critical of it and concerned about its effects on individuals and society.