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Seguineau on The Attention Economy

Jean-Louis Seguineau has written a very interesting piece on presence, the attention economy, and social networks. He talks about non-verbal presence, and various forms of mediation.  Well worth a read. 

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Craig Roth November 15, 2006, 7:27 am

    I'd be interested to know what you liked about this posting? It seems rather far off base to me, relying on some twisted definitions. If attention management is ever going to get any, well, attention it has to stop calling everything attention ("information tech is attention tech"), which dilutes the concept.

    Here's what I mean from the Seguineau piece:

    “for information to be of any value, it must receive attention. Therefore an information technology is also an attention technology”
    Not at all! Creating information and attracting attention to it are two different things. There is audience-driven content (such as advertising) and, well, content-driven content and there is quite a lot of the latter.

    “In economy, property is the ownership of wealth.”
    First of all, he means “in economics”, a field of study, not “economy.” And the concept of property is tied to ownership of anything, not of wealth. Songs are considered property, which gives one the right to decide what to do with it. That may mean selling it, but not necessarily. It could mean the right to perform it (which has benefits in its own right), change it, enjoy it myself, etc.

    “Presence occurs when part or all of an individual's experience is mediated not only by the human senses and perceptual processes but also by human-made technology (i.e., "second order" mediated experience) while the person perceives the experience as if it is only mediated by human senses and perceptual processes (i.e., "first order mediated experience).”
    A less contrived definition would be “A presence service provides real-time information about users' current activity and/or availability.” I don't feel the addition of sensory characteristics helps define presence from an IT point of view.

    “Presence technologies provide a temporal continuity through discontinuous participation, creating a sense of being with others who aren't there by projections of oneself in the virtual world.”
    I would disagree. Presence is about an indicator of your availability. Common usage is not to mean your actual being in a place. While that is a valid dictionary definition, that isn’t common IT nomenclature for it.

    “The real promise of the "social" web is to help satisfy the ever more pressing desire for attention.”
    I think the promise of the social web is to provide a virtualization of the ingrained social characteristics of humans. Attention isn’t the primary one. It’s validation, knowledge, a sense of belonging, shared effort, etc.

  • Alec November 20, 2006, 2:51 am

    Hi Craig — Seguineau's view is a little more academic than common IT usage, which makes it a little more abstract than what we hear about usually. When I think about presence, as IT defines it today, it's not a very useful definition. It's simply an awareness indicator to state that person x, or resource y, is available for interaction right now. It doesn't state the kind of interaction, or the intent of the other person. When married with perceptual indicators, or context, it can become more useful.

    Personally, I don't buy into most of the rhetoric around the "attention economy", from JLS or others. Economics implies a cash transaction to me, and while it may be an interesting academic exercise to model human interactions on the basis of other kinds of "economies", I don't believe it has a lot of real world application.

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