Thursday, August 7, 2008

Attention as a commodity

I am conscious now that time has become an issue for me. Nothing dramatic, but I became aware a while back that I was sitting around more than usual, watching television, browsing the Net more than usual, instead of working. The television never stops. The Net never stops. The difference is that the Net has a thousand, ten thousand times more interesting stuff on it than television. You can grow quickly bored with television, but it is impossible to grow bored with the Net. There is never a point in time, night or day, that you cannot find interesting, important, valuable information on the Net. The Net is the great wonder of contemporary civilization.

So I was sitting around watching television more than before. I was browsing the Net more than before. I was doing less real work than before. About a month ago I learned that folk with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma typically find that fatigue becomes an issue. I had to admit that I was napping more often than before, that I am only half awake more often than before. Once I became aware that this was how it was going to be, I found I could remind myself to stay away from the television, but drawing back from browsing the Net has been more difficult. There’s just too much good stuff there. And it is always less fatiguing to browse the work of others than to make your own stuff.

Yesterday I was on the Net when I came across a wonderful idea from the December 1997issue of Wired. Why was I browsing Wired? No idea.

“Silicon Valley futurist Michael H Goldhaber wrote an influential essay entitled ‘Attention Shoppers,’ which suggested that the great scarcity in the 21st-century digital media economy will be attention.”

Brilliant! In the Digital Age attention itself has become a “commodity.” I would never have dreamed to come up with such a concept. The accomplishments of the Age itself create the “scarcity” of what is the Age’s most valuable commodity. I saw instantly that that’s how it’s becoming with me. Attention is becoming an increasingly scarce commodity. But then, long before the present age, attention was not ever a commodity that I had in surplus. I’m too dreamy. I’m content to catch things on the fly.


Muslims, Jews and the free speech debate.

A column in the Daily News Egypt, a voice in English for the Muslim community worldwide, addresses the recent story about the French cartoonist Sine and how he was fired for a wisecrack he made about the son of French President Sarkozy.

The writer notes that it is ironic that Philippe Val, the editor of the French weekly Charlie Hebdo, who was once lauded for winning one of the most important court cases about freedom of expression — publishing cartoons depicting Prophet Mohamed wearing a bomb-shaped turban among others — has fired one of his own veteran writers for making indirect links between Judaism and upward social mobility or, that is, money. We'll keep in mind that producing money is the primary expertise of the Holocaust Lobby.

Double standards. There is one standard for Jews and things Jewish, another for most everyone and everything else. That is not the fault of Jews. It is “our” fault, those of us who are not Jews, we who do not have the stomach for being honest about such standards. The folk at the Daily News Egypt may be mere Muslims, but they understand the hypocrisy that is so pervasive on these issues throughout Western culture. And they are becoming increasingly attentive to it.

1 comment: said...

Dear Mr. Smith,
I want to thank you for all that you do to make the world a saner place.