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Attention is the New Currency

I was reading a few blog posts over at one of my favorite gamification sites, Bunchball.com when I came across a blog post by Rajat Paharia where he mentions my new favorite quote.

“Attention is the new currency.”attention is the new currency-thumb-350x266-3686

Rajat Paharia 04/23/2014

His premise is that using gamification concepts you’re able to capture insightful data from your target demographic and use that data to drive engagement.  Once you engage your audience you can encourage them to spend their currency (attention and dollars) on your goods.

Attention is the new currency.

Think about that for a minute.

We live in an age of distraction.  Email, instant messaging, text messages, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Blogs, breaking news, up to the minute traffic updates, and probably 1000’s of other things I’m not mentioning.  We used to think that the challenge was to bring information to people faster to give it more value but now, the balance has started to tip in the other direction.  Most of us have too much information that creates too many distractions and we all know what that produces, or more to the point doesn’t produce.

The counter to this barrage of distraction is focused attention on a task or a message or a mission.  Not just time spent on a task, focused attention.

People can spend time on something but the quality of that time is influenced by a few other factors including attention to the details.

Sure skill matters.  Natural aptitude.  Natural intelligence.  All important of course but I’d argue that if you pay close attention to the task at hand you’ll develop skill at it and over come nature in time.  I think this clearly illustrates that focused attention has more value than just time.

I’d like to think I have a  longer attention span than a goldfish but who knows?  In any event no matter what study you read, what outrageous data you come across, everyone agrees that the average attention span is dropping.  That makes attention increasing valuable as currency.

What is currency?  

It’s stuff we exchange for goods and services and when you mention it to most people they think of the dollar.  Some people think beyond the dollar and would argue that time is the real currency because so many people spend their precious time working for dollars.  But I think I’m going to extend this even farther because I have a lot more time than I have attention to spend.  Attention might be a more valuable currency than time.

So this leads us back to the quote:  Attention is the new currency.  How are you spending yours?  Are you spending it on important people or things?  Are you spending it to achieve your goals, chase your dreams or are you wasting it on meaningless distractions?

This is hardly a new concept.  As early as 2002 Davenport and Beck wrote about this very concept. The Attention Economy They argue that unless companies learn to capture, manage and keep attention they will fall behind companies that master this technique.  I’ve dropped the Amazon link in with the cover and I’m putting this book on my must read list if I can focus long enough to order it.

Was that a new email I just got?  No wait a tweet.  What was I on Amazon to do again?  Oh that’s right, pay some attention to a book.

What do you think about the concept of attention as currency?  Is it accurate or just another way to talk about spending time?  Leave your feedback here or drop me an email at [email protected] this blog’s url and let me know. Finally (and most importantly) sign up for my mailing list to keep in contact with me and the projects I’m pursuing. I promise no spam, just periodic updates on the projects I’m working on and topics related to them.