Attention Must Be Paid

Esther Dyson

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It is fashionable nowadays to talk about personal attention as a commodity or a currency. Many companies are looking for ways to automate the act of "paying attention" to individual customers on a grand scale, even as many of them also confuse attention with intention (to buy). "Attention" is becoming more interesting now that the Internet makes it easier to measure it.

But attention is neither a currency nor a commodity. It can, to some extent, be bought and sold. But it cannot be traded to third parties, and it is not entirely fungible.

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