"Wealth will increasingly be defined by our ability to go offline whenever we want." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Thoughts
February 2, 2007

Attention Economics

Attention Economics is a growing field of study that treats the human attention span as a limited resource (see also Herbert Simon). The concept has been getting more and more attention in past few years and MediaShift comments on it today. Although the immediate applications relate to advertising and marketing, it’s pretty obvious the issue […]

Attention Economics is a growing field of study that treats the human attention span as a limited resource (see also Herbert Simon). The concept has been getting more and more attention in past few years and MediaShift comments on it today.

Although the immediate applications relate to advertising and marketing, it’s pretty obvious the issue is pertinent for any form of communication, including blogging.

Moreover, it may mean those wishing to communicate the Christian message either in terms of evangelistic endeavours or theology and culture, will have to rethink their assumptions.

Often, we assume that in order to communicative our message more effectively we have to overcome a lack of clear information. Whether it is the “unchurched” concept we find in attractional church growth models or the doctrinal illiteracy at the heart of programmes like Alpha, the assumption is that folks are “ignorant” of the Christian message.

However, attention economics suggests that today, technologically-driven societies don’t face a deficit of information, but a deficit of attention and by extension, a lack of the skills required to assess and evaluate information.

The road ahead may demand that we substitute “information overload” for “ignorance” in our approaches to communication. Perhaps alongside offering more information, we also need to be offering the opportunity for people to process their intellectual “in-tray” and address the “noetic-noise” of contemporary life?

[tags] Evangelism, Attention Economics [/tags]

Responses
Steve Lowe 16 years ago

Fascinating, and logical, approach. Economics ‘works’ because of the assumption that resources are ‘scarce’. If the attention span is a resource, it is indeed becomming increasingly scarce. And here all along I thought I had ADD. Turns out macroeconomics is at work against my attention span!

Fernando Gros 16 years ago

Thanks for the comment Steve!

jay upp 16 years ago

wow. i have been very intrigued by economics lately. i tend to side with milton friedman and find his studies of less government in economics the better. anyhow, it is imperative for the modern Christian to realize the amount of real estate open in the average persons mind for more informatino. the daily bombardment of information is overwhelming. working in an elementary school i have seen it with young children, who are mandated by state to pass a million tests. instead of opening their minds to let their imaginations grow, thus deleting input to imagine and speculate the existance of a higher being in the world. this is my educated experience in feeling that home school may be a better way to go for some people.
back to our Jesus strategy, i beleive the marketing of Christ and his grace comes through our love for people and the building of relationships and value. love can overtake and overcome any informatino as it is the essence of God. man this post is jumbled up.

Fernando Gros 16 years ago

Jay – it’s not that jumbled.

The school thing is very telling. When I look at my young daughter’s friends, some have such packed programmes, with after-school activies, tutoring, etc., it maks me wonder where the time to play and imagine will come from. Add to that the holiday camps, etc, etc.

For grown ups it is not better, with so much attentiongrabbing/demanding stuff out there.

Which is where relationships have to come in. I think you are highlighting a really good connection of ideas.

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