What if attention is not scarce?

November 22, 2006 at 9:18 am | Posted in Attention Management | Leave a comment

Interesting posting from Ross Mayfield. Excerpt below:

Here’s a thought experiment, one I had in a hallway with Jerry Michalski and Linda Stone last week. What if attention, the last good some of us think will be scarce, is actually abundant? …

Attention isn’t an act of consumption, but one of giving. Steve went past that with gestures, a framework I can buy. But are we really limited to an amount of gestures we can give? Does it cost me something to mention Steve’s name, let alone linking to him, in a post? Or wave to him in a hallway? The cost of either is nominal. …

When you make your gestures public, enable them to be discovered, you are acting with abundance. This is what I think is changing. Sharing control over your gestures creates more value than the gesture inandofitself.

I like his questioning of the common basis for attention management (the whole “attention is a scarce resource” bit). I posted the following:

Mentioning someone in a blog post may cost nothing, but my instinct tells me that if I have to read through X blog posts a day, I’ll hit up against the limits of what I can pay attention to in one day. Add to that Y emails, Z instant messages, and you get the idea. So making gestures abundant doesn’t cost you anything, but if you’re adding to that X+Y+Z it’s costing me something, whatever you want to call it.

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