From The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of Information by Richard A. Lanham

Let's summarize the rules of attention-economy art as Andy [Warhol] practiced them:

  • Build attention traps. Create value by manipulating the ruling attention structures. Judo, not brute force, gets the best results. Duchamp did this for a joke. Do it for a business.

  • Understand the logic of the centripetal gaze and how to profit from it.

  • Draw your inspiration from your audience not your muse. And keep in touch with that audience. The customer is always right. No Olympian artistic ego need apply.

  • Turn the "masterpiece psychology" of conventional art upside down:

    • Mass production not skilled handwork

    • Mass audience not connoisseurship

    • Trendiness not timelessness

    • Repetition not rarity

  • Objects do matter. Don't leave the world of stuff behind while you float off in cyberspace. Conceptual art gets you nowhere. Create stuff you can sell.

  • Live in the present. That's where the value is added. Don't build your house in eternity. "My work has no future at all. I know that. A few years. Of course my things will mean nothing."
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AuthorDave Duarte
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Today is my second day back in the lab after three weeks of back-to-back online marketing and strategy workshops, lectures and conferences. The recurrent theme in all of them was the idea of authentic co-creation. Quite obviously the most important shift that is happening in marketing and strategy is a move away from centralized control of communications to a more decentralized user-oriented approach.

At the iCommons Innovation Series last week in Joburg, Jimmy Wales stated that any business that was dependent on people not copying its products or services was doomed, whereas those that embrace the culture of sharing, and that build in systems to facilitate and benefit from sharing would thrive. This is most obvious in the music industry, where even Madonna has left her old record label which was dependent on DRM and record sales and moved to a label that prioritizes alternative revenue streams such as her brand, her live performance revenues, and merchandising.

In the Attention Economy, having the goodwill of a community can make you rich, and power comes as your ideas, products and services circulate through that community. In this new economy, participation is key, since it is the highest form of Attention that a person can give. It must be pointed out though, that simply creating a platform for participation (such as a Wiki or a video-channel) is not enough to get people involved. You need to help them connect with people that have shared interests.

How do you think Wikipedia maintains the level of quality participation it has? The answer is that behind each article there are little communities of people who are connecting with each other through a shared interest in the subject matter they are compiling - each contribution, discussion and edit is a form of social currency that can escalate their status in the community. People blog for much the same reason. So perhaps the human need for recognition and connection is really the driver of the new web economy.

My advice is to do whatever you can to help reduce people's sense of separation from each other and your brand. As a participant in one of last-week's workshops pointed out: A relationship is an ongoing conversation. So I leave you with a question to consider: How will you start facilitating ongoing conversations through your company, with your company, and through your products, services, portals and communications?
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AuthorDave Duarte
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Consider the definition of Entertainment, which I consider to be the driver of the Attention Economy.

It means:

1. to show hospitality (to ‘entertain’ guests)

2. To keep, hold, or maintain in the mind.

3. To receive and take into consideration.

Our ability to attract profitable, targeted and sustainable attention is directly related to our ability to entertain customers and be in tune with their needs (current and future).

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AuthorDave Duarte
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There's been a real uproar in the blogosphere recently after David Bullard, a very popular journalist, slated bloggers in his weekly Sunday Times column.

In classic Bullard style, it's over-the-top, opinionated, and tongue-in-cheek arrogant. The man is a master of fuelling debate and controversy.... typically selecting prominent public targets who will make lots of noise. Hence bloggers were ripe and ready to be picked.... And boy were they juicy! (This incident has been dubbed BullardGate)

I've often echoed P.T. Barnums assertion that "No Attention is bad attention" (if you channel it well). Colin Daniels, Sunday Times' New Media strategist, would probably agree... Bullardgate has attracted a massive influx of traffic and inbound-hyperlinks to SundayTimes.co.za.

Kudos to the Sunday Times multimedia team for making the most of this (they grabbed the bullard by the horns) and immediately recording a follow video-cast series and dedicated page on their site.



Best of all, this gives me a good reason to point out that Mike and I were quoted in the same newspaper on the same day in another article about blogging: Business Times: Business Missing Out on Blogging.
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AuthorDave Duarte
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A friend of mine who works in marketing for a very large and progressive company was complaining to me that her company's tactics of muscling their customers into buying product was outdated and, frankly, disrespectful to their customers.

This lead to a discussion on the Attention Economy. I explained that Economies are driven by what's scarce, and that in an age of over-abundant information we have proportionately less Attention to pay to it all.

The point is that our Attention is scarce and valuable. This is why we're getting annoyed with all the advertising being forced on us. It virtually amounts to theft if we haven't given permission for the advertiser to speak to us! Quite obviously, this is unethical.
What can progressive marketers do to amend this?

We can offer meaningful experiences that transcend the advert itself - whether by offering a chance to connect with like-minded others at an event like a 27dinner, or simply becoming a source of social-currency (by creating a compelling story or great humour).

The point is that we're all used to giving away our attention without a second thought to how really, economically valuable it is. Great marketing in the future will be respectful of this and offer real, economic value in return.
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AuthorDave Duarte
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Since the September 11th Bombings in New York in 2001, many people have argued that Islam has come under attack. And when the cartoon controversy raged last year, many people in the press accused Muslims of being unreasonable.

What I find interesting from the Marketing perspective is that all this debate has served to dramatically increase the number of Muslims in America!

One of the reasons is that many people have gone to do investigations to find out for themselves what Islam is all about. Then with the information they discover, some find that they agree with the principles of Islam and they convert.

The Marketing Principle at play here is that no publicity is bad publicity. It's far worse to be ignored.
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AuthorDave Duarte