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The Attention Economy:
Understanding the New Currency of Business

by Thomas H. Davenport, John C. Beck

ISBN 1578518717 / 9781578518715 / 1-57851-871-7
Publisher Harvard Business Review Press
Language English
Edition Softcover
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Book summary

Welcome to the Attention Economy. If yesterday was the age of information, today is the age of trying to attract or employ the attention necessary to use that information. Indeed, leaders and managers in the business world face this problem daily, constantly seeking to gain the attention of their customers and employees while managing an effective distribution of their own limited supply. "Understanding and managing attention is now the single most important determinant of business success," the authors declare as they examine what attention actually is, how it can be measured, how it is being technologically constructed and protected, and so on. The book contains numerous suggestions on how leaders can manage their own attention and that of their employees more effectively (and how to avoid and treat "info-stress"), but always with an eye on the ultimate goal: affecting the type and amount of attention your customers give you. Already, more money is usually spent on attracting attention to a product than is spent on the product itself. And as our information environment gets increasingly saturated, holding a person's attention becomes an ever more difficult proposition; as the authors suggest, actually paying for someone to receive your information is a realistic prospect in the not-too-distant future. Indeed, the book's final chapter is devoted to what the authors predict will affect attention in the future, and how attention can and will be acquired, monitored and distributed.

The Attention Economy is peppered with anecdotal pull-outs and "overheard" comments--and though intriguing in a random-factoid and zippy-little-quote way, this sideline information doesn't always tie in well with the authors' points and often seems distracting. The book is well written, though, and the authors, both of whom work at the Accenture Institute for Strategic Change, take an informed and well-balanced look at what is perhaps our society's most priceless, ephemeral commodity. --S Ketchum [via]