Issue 04/2016 Europe

A voice in the crowd: communicating in the attention economy

Attention is the world’s most valuable currency. Constant connectedness and incessant stimuli have made us a restless audience: a recent study by Time Inc. found that ‘digital natives' subconsciously move between devices and platforms 27 times per hour. In an environment like this, attention quickly becomes the most valuable currency. Advertisers want your attention before the next YouTube video plays, friends demand your attention on snapchat and Instagram, new media tries to grab your attention with click-baiting headlines. There are also more serious ramifications: the political upheavals that have convulsed the world over the last 12 months raise serious questions about the attention economy. Are we becoming deaf to all but the loudest, most extreme arguments? Do the snap judgements encouraged by a “like/unlike” culture negate the shades of grey that are involved in any adult political argument?

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