The currency of the New Economy won't be money, but attention -- A radical theory of value.
"Attention," write Thomas Mandel and Gerard Van der Leun in their 1996 book Rules of the Net, "is the hard currency of cyberspace." They're dead on. As the Net becomes an increasingly strong presence in the overall economy, the flow of attention will not only anticipate the flow of money, but eventually replace it altogether.
...ours is not truly an information economy. By definition, economics is the study of how a society uses its scarce resources. And information is not scarce - especially on the Net, where it is not only abundant, but overflowing. We are drowning in information, yet constantly increasing our generation of it. So a key question arises: Is there something else that flows through cyberspace, something that is scarce and desirable? There is. No one would put anything on the Internet without the hope of obtaining some. It's called attention. And the economy of attention - not information - is the natural economy of cyberspace.
Technically, at least, information and its flow can be accurately detected and counted (in bits, bytes, and baud rates) by simple electronic devices. Attention is more mysterious, a process that can occur only in a mind, yet somehow it moves out into the world as well.
What in the world is going on?
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