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31.12.2018 | Books/Attention Economy

Trump up there

After some consideration and watching of interviews I ordered and borrowed the book Reality Lost. It seems like an international (English) version is available free on Kindle.

Anyway the book sort of gotten a hold on my mind. So why not "review" it. The main focus in the book is on flood of information and the economy of ditto. We only have so many hours during the day in which we can focus our attention. That is attention is far from an unlimited resource. As unlimited matters often goes attention is very valuable. Think adds on the internet, our attention is made concrete in clicks and are sold to highest bidder. Since we as users of the internet are the providers of the attention, naturally we have become the product. Think Facebook: you have a limited amount of attention (the product). The commercial industry that provide adds on Facebook (the consumer) buys your attention. Thus if you see yourself as the consumer of the free product Facebook, you are wrongly switching the roles. The role of Facebook is to get a hold of you (sort of seduce you), like a movie running on television - again you are the product and the television adds providers are the consumer of your attention. You pay with what you are, your attention, and thus attention is made into economy.

Attention is not only valuable in terms of money. Flooding your attention with information forces you to miss out on other information. You are probably a wake at most 14-16 hours during the day. 14-16 hours to focus your attention. That is flooding can be made into a political strategy. Say you spend an appreciable amount of these 14-16 hours on Facebook, Twitter or the like. Thus by flooding these platforms with posts a person can control a serious amount of your attention.

Flooding along with polarization of the society (them versus us thinking), making the public press a part of "them" and thus robbing the press their credibility, makes way for a post-fact society not unlike the one found in George Orwells 1984. Say some man of power control the "facts", that is this guy control what is true and what is false. Now why not "War is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength"? The final question is of course: how far is a man of power from controlling the meaning of our language (what is true and what is false) when controlling the focus of most of our attention?

The book is easy read. It isn't very long. It does make heavy use of examples and citations. It isn't a very in depth book - it does cover a lot of material - but the citations and examples can be seen as "further reading". It isn't a book about how come Trump, though a lot of the examples are related to Trump in some way.

The book is not made heavy with academic language. Most people should, like myself, find it readable. The subject at hand is dead serious. So grab the Kindle version or go borrow it at your local library. I strongly recommend this book.

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