The COVID pandemic has forced many of us to migrate even more of our lives online. Much of our world is now viewed through the keyhole of a screen, constricted to two dimensions; restricted to where the camera aims and what the text claims. We’re losing touch, texture, and context. The absence of familiar social cues defeats our usual attempts at attention and discretion, leaving us in thrall to well-financed and algorithmically-tuned manipulation of our fascination.
This insight is not original to me. On the contrary, this insight was not acceptable to me.
In 1997, when I read, A radical theory of value, in Wired, I thought Professor Goldhaber was nuts or grasping for a headline with another The Internet changes everything! hyperbole. The shocking subtitle was meant literally, The currency of the New Economy won’t be money, but attention. I was skeptical. Sure, every child is exhorted to, “Pay attention!” But that was a “just” metaphor. I had not noticed anyone collecting money for the attention “paid.”
Now, I see his prediction manifested globally. How else to explain the (more…)
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