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January 13, 2010

Penetrating the Attention Economy in the Age of Social Media

My latest column for Inc's technology site was posted yesterday on the idea economy vs. the attention economy, and how one is overwhelming the other. You can probably guess which is the overrun-er and which is the overrun-ee.

There's always been idea and attention economies, and they seldom match up. One seems limitless, while now the other is extremely limited (especially in my case). Not too long ago a large number of ideas never made into the attention economy because of transportation issues - cost and complexity. Who could afford to buy advertising and create commercials, etc. Because of that we had to focus way too much attention on the relatively few ideas (not even the best ones) that could navigate between the two economies, and also pay all the tolls.

I think a lot of great ideas weren't developed because people knew they couldn't pay the toll and navigate the currents. Even worse, the focus on the "mechanics" of crossing that chasm may have dulled some of our enthusiasm and creativity for thinking up interesting stuff.

Now we're in a completely different environment where we effectively have no chasm - we can move ideas into the attention economy (AE) at break-neck speeds at next to no cost at all to potentially get in front of large audiences. So once again we're at an imbalance - this time we have too many ideas and not enough attention.

In the past we had too few good ideas getting moved into the attention economy, now we have too many marginal ideas overwhelming the AE - making it difficult for us to find and focus on the ideas that should be fully realized. And a major reason for this has been the focus on the journey between economies (idea to attention), instead of on the process of creating better ideas. But now is the time to spend the time on creating better, bigger, more captivating ideas, since today the costs and complexities of crossing the chasm have been greatly diminished.

If you get a chance check the column out and see how my friends at Hubspot are successfully navigating the economies to grab a chunk of our attention. Thanks!

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