Attention economy

As a part of my degree, I am required to blog about what I learn to demonstrate that I understand the weekly topics, but so is every other student doing the subject. It creates and abundance of similar information by students who may or may not fully comprehend the topic. This is mass amateurisation. Entry into a blogging space is extremely simple and accessible more and more people are able to voice their views causing an information abundance and allowing opinions to flourish where facts should be. This means that rather than the content being the scarce resource as it was before the internet, attention is the new scarce resource.

Where consumers of content place their attention is indicative of the success of the source, just as it is with legacy media models. A way that the internet differs from legacy media is that it allows consumers to participate in the development of content. They are known as prosumers and their game is user generated content (UGC). The perfect example of UGC are memes (my one true love). They usually begins with a photo, add a caption and voila! It goes viral. Researchers have attempted to investigate what makes prosumers choose a certain photo for a meme and why some gain popularity and others fail but they have yet to reach any conclusions.


Blogs are also user generated content, but many aren’t read (I suspect mine is one of them). Where blogs may take minutes to read, a meme will take a second. This shows how time is a factor in where prosumers choose to place their attention. But it also shows what is known as the long tail.


Visual representation of the long tail

If we were to look at the long tail from a blogging perspective, the “hits” would be news stories by reputable sources including The Guardian or Huffington Post. The niche content would be news sites like The Shovel. It can be assumed that the more niche the content (like my blog) the less attention the content gets, except from those specifically searching for information.

One thought on “Attention economy

  1. Hi Rachael, I really liked how you used memes and blogs as your examples of user generated content. You said in your post that researchers are studying why certain photos go viral and why others don’t. Is there a source for this? I would like to know more.

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