Note — Feb 14, 2021

The Internet Rewired Our Brains. He Predicted It Would.

Seen in → No.160

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On Michael Goldhaber’s thinking about the attention economy. Quickly; everything we do is a transaction, “we are taking what precious little attention we have and diverting it toward something,” this is used to frame our decisions online, but also politics, GameStop, and power more broadly.

Michael Goldhaber is the internet prophet you’ve never heard of. Here’s a short list of things he saw coming: the complete dominance of the internet, increased shamelessness in politics, terrorists co-opting social media, the rise of reality television, personal websites, oversharing, personal essay, fandoms and online influencer culture — along with the near destruction of our ability to focus. […]

Any discussion of power is now, ultimately, a conversation about attention and how we extract it, wield it, waste it, abuse it, sell it, lose it and profit from it. […]

He said that many of the polarizing factors in the country are, in essence, attentional. Not having a college degree, he argued, means less attention from corporations or the economy at large. Living in a rural area, he suggested, means being farther from cultural centers and may result in feeling alienated by the attention that cities generate in the news and in pop culture.