Herb Simon on Attention

Tim passed me this great Herb Simon quote he wandered across on Wikipedia that perfectly sums up the “Attention Economy” theme of this year’s ETech.

“What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.” (Computers, Communications and the Public Interest, pages 40-41, Martin Greenberger, ed., The Johns Hopkins Press, 1971.)

  • Charlie Sierra

    Well Duh.

    This is very old news for many of us.

    Haven’t you guys ever read “The Attention Economy”, published by HBS?

  • The point wasn’t that it was news, it was that it was a great quote, and one that’s appropriate for the theme of etech!

    Sorry for “consuming” your attention with information that wasn’t news to you. (Was it Claude Shannon who said that data is news only when it’s new.)

  • Forget It

    Attention derives from perception.

    Perception can multi-task.
    The trick is to present information via
    perceptual pathways that promote multi-tasking.
    Human factors is all about that.
    Web 2.0 should study HCI and visual perception
    if it wants to communicate in subliminal ways.

  • Perception may be able to multitask (ie. I can hear, see and smell three different things at once), but that doesn’t mean that attention can.

    43 Folders on the myth of multitasking:

    What this wealth of information is really doing, is making us all better at (or tired of?) quickly redirecting our attention between many things. This is exactly what the above quote says.

    Now subliminal computing… That’ll be nice. But maybe not until Web 3.0

  • Daniel

    This week’s O’Reilly Podcast Distributing the Future is called Attention Span and includes an excerpt from Linda Stone’s Supernova 2005 address on Continuous Partial Attention called Your Attention Please. She is scheduled to present a keynote on Attention at ETech.