A few days ago, I posted a short piece on the attention economy. In a sense it was a bit of a cheat. What I had actually written was much, much longer. I cut it short because the trains of thought it prompted created a whole set of new starting points, but didn’t make for a very coherent piece. When I then collided with the concept of Low Latent Inhibition the thought processes exploded.
One of the places this took me to was back to the idea of Purposive Drift and how what I seem to be saying there could be reduced to two grammatically inelegant aphorisms that seem to apply as much to organisations as they do to individuals like you and me:
“You are what you pay attention to”
“If you want to change who you are; change what you pay attention to”
The other day my attention was grabbed by a very short entry in Bruce Sterling‘s blog. Essentially it consisted of a title The Inherent Nature of a Capitalist “Attention Economy”” and a link “Michael Goldhaber, economic prophet” plus one of Sterlings photos”
Now I don’t know about you, but the term, “Attention Economy” seems very last century to me and the name “Michael Goldhaber” didn’t register. So why did I click on the link?
I think, in this case, it was a combination of things. First, I rate Bruce Sterling, so a recommendation from him carries some weight. Second, the link was to First Monday, which, while quite often a bit worthy and dull, sometimes contains some articles that require serious attention.
This essay proved to be one of them.
Goldhaber is a very lively and persuasive writer, but I am not convinced by his argument that the “attention economy” is replacing the money economy. What he has persuaded me is that “attention” is an increasingly important part of the money economy. And, that getting and giving attention is a phenomenon we should take very seriously.
In one of the very few hostile reviews of Understanding Hypermedia, the reviewer took particular exception to my use of the word bricolage. This he explained to his readers meant do it yourself in French. Not long afterwards, I went on holiday to France and it seems almost everywhere we went was met by signs at the side of the road advertising “Mr. Bricolage”. Ever since then I have been tempted to create a new identity for myself as Monsieur Bricolage.
Continue reading Monsieur Bricolage
According to Lalith Munasinghe and Nachum Sicherman smokers earn less than non-smokers. Their starting wage is lower and wage growth flatter. In an intriguingly titled paper, “Why Do Dancers Smoke? Smoking, Time Preference, and Wage Dynamics”, they use smoking as a proxy for people’s attitude towards time. Smokers are more orientated towards the present and immediate gratification. Non-smokers seem to live Max Weber‘s Protestant Ethic, deferring gratification for future benefit.
Continue reading Why Do Dancers Smoke?
If you enter the phrase, “To go faster, slow down” into Google, you won’t find the name “John Brunner” in your returns. The closest you will get is,“To go faster, slow down. Everybody who knows about orbital mechanics understands that.? attributed to Scott Cherf of Cisco.
This is kind of sad since that bit of advice, I culled from Brunner’s “Shockwave Rider”, is one that really works if you can do it.
All though Brunner’s best books were written some thirty years or so ago, they largely seem as relevant today as when they were first published. Thankfully, after a long period of neglect, the good ones, “Shockwave Rider”, “The Jagged Orbit”, “Stand on Zanzibar” and “The Sheep Look Up”, seem to be going through something of a revival.
I’ve been telling my son, Ben, whose just turned eighteen, that if he wants economic security the best way to do it is to build up a portfolio of tradable skills. By tradable skills I mean a set of skills that are clearly identifiable by people who will pay for them. (I should add this is something I have manifestly failed to do myself. Most frequently asked question, “What exactly is it that you do?) I’ve also pointed out that he already has some such skills, but I’m not sure he really believes me.
Thankfully, I can now point him to an entry in Douglas Rushkoff’s blog, which he is likely to take seriously since he devoured Rushkoff’s “Children of Chaos” at a relatively early age.
This extract, gives a taster, but read the whole thing, it could, as they say in the ads, change your life:
“What I’ve come to realize is that the street is the safest place to be. There’s no fear, here, because you’re already here. (It’s where you are, anyway, even if some company has given you cubicle space – but that’s a bit existential for spring.) Your employment is as diversified as your ability to multitask. And the more different kinds of work you take on, the more media in which you can play. It’s not a jack-of-all-trades problem, at all, since the more different arenas in which you work, the more clear it gets what you bring to each one of them.”
As regular readers will know I like John Brockman‘s the Edge . Invariably, I find something that gets me thinking. On my visit this morning, I found this little gem in an interview with Nassim Taleb, a thought that deserves some deep reflection:
“There is a silly book called A Millionaire Next Door, and one of the authors wrote an even sillier book called The Millionaire’s Mind. They interviewed a bunch of millionaires to figure out how these people got rich. Visibly they came up with bunch of traits. You need a little bit of intelligence, a lot of hard work, and a lot of risk-taking. And they derived that, hey, taking risk is good for you if you want to become a millionaire. What these people forgot to do is to go take a look at the less visible cemetery ? in other words, bankrupt people, failures, people who went out of business ? and look at their traits. They would have discovered that some of the same traits are shared by these people, like hard work and risk taking. This tells me that the unique trait that the millionaires had in common was mostly luck.”