The Attention Merchants

The Epic Struggle to Get Inside Our Heads

The Attention Merchants

Attention merchant: an industrial-scale harvester of human attention. A firm whose business model is the mass capture of attention for resale to advertisers. In nearly every moment of our waking lives, we face a barrage of advertising enticements, branding efforts, sponsored social media, commercials and other efforts to harvest our attention. Over the last century, few times or spaces have remained uncultivated by the 'attention merchants', contributing to the distracted, unfocused tenor of our times. Tim Wu argues that this is not simply the byproduct of recent inventions but the end result of more than a century's growth and expansion in the industries that feed on human attention. From the pre-Madison Avenue birth of advertising to TV's golden age to our present age of radically individualized choices, the business model of 'attention merchants' has always been the same. He describes the revolts that have risen against these relentless attempts to influence our consumption, from the remote control to FDA regulations to Apple's ad-blocking OS. But he makes clear that attention merchants grow ever-new heads, and their means of harvesting our attention have given rise to the defining industries of our time, changing our nature - cognitive, social, and otherwise - in ways unimaginable even a generation ago.

The Attention Merchants

The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads

The Attention Merchants

A revelatory look at the rise of the 'attention merchants', the advertising marketeers who influence and control our consumption in ways previously unimagined

The Attention Deficit

Unintended Consequences of Digital Connectivity

The Attention Deficit

Digital technology has enabled connectivity on an unimagined scale. Human beings are social animals and economic activity promotes this socialization. Market transactions are based on optimism about the future, faith that the world is good and trust that growth is organic or coming from within the system. Individuals therefore invest in the future by having children, by extending credit and accepting risk, and by building connections with others in the sincere expectation of this connectivity being reciprocated. This book explores the unintended consequences of ubiquitous connectivity. The first effect is captured by the sharing model. Technology offers multiple avenues for sharing experiences and personal information, so active engagement with this increased content uses mental effort. Connection inevitably leads to comparisons with other groups and individuals, so despite the benefits of affirmation and group inclusion, these links corrode social networks, leading to depression and mental apathy. The second effect--the result of the commercialization of sharing--is encapsulated in the attention deficit model. Loss of self-worth, driven by the first effect, encourages further connectivity and sharing as buyers seek more comfort and reassurance via social media, paying with time and personal information. The product is digital content and the payment is with time and data. Correspondingly, social media fulfills this demand with exuberance, both via user-generated content and commercially curated content. We are overwhelmed with even more information, paying with increasingly scarce time and attention. Finally, the third and most consequential effect is diminished risk taking. Attention scarcity, as a consequence of the content tsunami, throttles cognitive effort, impairing judgment and decision-making. So the safe bet may be to do nothing . . . take no risks and no gambles. Weaving together the latest research on economics, psychology, and neuroscience, this book fills a void for readers wanting a smart, clear analysis of communications markets and the commercialization of Internet-inspired connectivity.

The Attention Economy and How Media Works

Simple Truths for Marketers

The Attention Economy and How Media Works

This book offers a considered voice on the advertising chaos that colours our rapidly changing media environment in a world of fake news, fast facts and seriously depleted attention stamina. Rather than simply herald disruption, Karen Nelson-Field starts an intelligent conversation on what it will take for businesses to win in an attention economy, the advertising myths we need to leave behind and the scientific evidence we can use to navigate a complex advertising and media ecosystem. This book makes sense of viewability standards, coverage and clutter; it talks about the real quality behind a qCPM and takes a deep dive into the relationship between attention and sales. It explains the stark reality of human attention processing in advertising. Readers will learn how to maximise a viewer’s divided attention by leveraging specific media attributes and using attention-grabbing creative triggers. Nelson-Field asks you to pay attention to a disrupted advertising future without panic, but rather with a keen eye on the things that brand owners can learn to control.

Antisocial Media

How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy

Antisocial Media

One of the signal developments in democratic culture around the world in the past half-decade has been the increasing power of social media to both spread information and shape opinions. After the Arab Spring of 2011, many pointed to the liberating potential of platforms like Facebook andTwitter. Yet five years later, as many Americans reeled in shock from the election of an authoritarian bullshit artist (using philosopher Harry Frank's technical definition of the term), a few perceptive observers began looking at new at the social and political effects of dominant social mediaplatforms, particularly Facebook. And they did not like what they saw.The media studies and IP scholar Siva Vaidhyanathan is one of those sharp observers, and in Anti-Social Media he argues that our descent into dystopia stems in no small part from trends that have developed in the online world. The 2016 election saw a remarkable and dispiriting increase of peoplehiving themselves off within ideological echo chambers and treating fake news as real. Vaidhyanathan provides a structural explanation of why this happened, and he has located a culprit: social media, and more specifically Facebook. The founders of Facebook may have had (some) good intentions, buthe contends that they have created a Frankenstein's monster that they have neither the will nor capacity to rein in. Fake news abounds, and the algorithms that undergird the platform drive people inexorably to news sites that conform to their ideological predilections - which Facebook can figure outwith ease. Serious news reporting, already in a parlous state, has suffered even more as people on platforms like Facebook (meaning most people) are bombarded by both snippets of news from multiple sources and ads that look like news. Deliberative democracies require informed citizenries able todistinguish facts and falsehoods. By weakening those skills, social media is eroding the very foundations of our democratic republican culture. Social media-driven false news campaigns and ideological echo chambers are not only visible in the US, either - they are clearly on the rise in Europe andacross the developing world too. Vaidhyanathan closes by offering offers a number of smart policy proposals that attack the problem, but they will undoubtedly be hard to enact. But the first order of business when facing a significant new crisis is to recognize its existence and explain what it is.Anti-Social Media promises to be that path-breaking initial step toward understanding how social media is quickly undermining not only centuries of democratic progress, but civil society itself.

Contemporary Fictions of Attention

Reading and Distraction in the Twenty-First Century

Contemporary Fictions of Attention

With the supposed shortening of our attention spans, what future is there for fiction in the age of the internet? Contemporary Fictions of Attention rejects this discourse of distraction-crisis which suggests that the future of reading is in peril, and instead finds that contemporary writers construct 'fictions of attention' that find some value in states or moments of inattention. Through discussion of work by a diverse selection of writers, including Joshua Cohen, Ben Lerner, Tom McCarthy, Ali Smith, Zadie Smith, and David Foster Wallace, this book identifies how fiction prompts readers to become peripherally aware of their own attention. Contemporary Fictions of Attention locates a common interest in attention within 21st-century fiction and connects this interest to a series of debates surrounding ethics, temporality, the everyday, boredom, work, and self-discipline in contemporary culture.

The Curse of Bigness

How Corporate Giants Came to Rule the World

The Curse of Bigness

We're three decades into a global experiment: what happens when the major nations of the world weaken their control on the size and power of corporate giants and allow unrestricted expansion? In The Curse of Bigness Tim Wu exposes the threats monopolies pose to economic stability and social freedom around the world. Aided by the globalization of commerce and finance, in recent years, we have seen takeovers galore that make a mockery of the ideals of competition and economic freedom. Such is the reality of the 'curse of bigness': stifled entrepreneurship, stalled productivity, dominant tech giants like Facebook and Google, and fewer choices for consumers. Urgent and persuasive, this bold manifesto argues that we need to rediscover the anti-monopoly traditions that brought great peace and prosperity in the past.