The fight for attention

This post starts with a love story. Some years ago a friend of mine was in love with this girl. One day, after some dates, she told him that she liked a certain music band. Some days later my friend offered her a CD of that band to which she said “how did you know I liked them?” and he replied “you happened to tell me a few days ago and I was paying attention”. And the rest of the story is up to Cupid and involves currently an offspring.

I remembered this little episode today as I was leaving the office after a long day thinking that I had to find time to post (I believe this is called the “bloggers’ syndrome” which consists of having ideas for posts in the most unusual places & moments and then never having the time to write them).

Well, I’ve been wanting to write about attention. Let me explain: some weeks ago I attended a seminar by Marc Smith from Connected Action on Social Media Network Analysis using NodeXL, a software for mapping networks on social media tools like Twitter and that runs as an Excel add-in. At some point of the presentation he highlighted the fact that a scarce resource these days is human attention. And he went on to explain that although social media helps to reach a wider audience that does not always translate into reciprocated or stronger ties.

Flash forward a few weeks and you’ll find me sitting comfortably at SHIFT 2010 as Andrea Vascellari, CEO of, starts his talk by highlighting that we live in the attention economy. Simply put, all the buzz (be it on social media or not) that we face everyday as individuals keeps our attention away from brands and companies, so that they are, more than ever, literally fighting for our attention. Add to this all the networks of connections (friends, colleagues, etc) to which we belong, all the blog posts to read, all the Twitter links to follow, all the conversations to establish, and all the books to read.

I try to remember this every time someone comments on my little corner of the blogosphere. For a moment I got their most scarce resource: their attention!


5 thoughts on “The fight for attention

  1. Well I find myself paying attention to many things and people and sometimes I miss some attention back.
    I’m not going to be specific but certain times people’s attention is so focused on their own lifes that they miss to see other people are missing their attention.

    Good post, people’s attention is a very precious “resource” and a very personal on. Being able to captivate and secure that resource is certainly a very important action and a hard one also.

    Btw, what is your favorite band? 😉 just kidding :p

    • @Saqib: good point! Does that mean that we are returning, or wanting to return, to a simpler life? Someone commented the other day that one of the key future trends will be that of simplicity, and in some areas & people I’m already witnessing that. Hmm… idea for new blog post? 🙂

      • simplicity is definitely a future trend. it is required for the survival of the human as a race…..why complicate?

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