Bridezilla and the Economy of Attention

In my reading of this last year, I ran across the idea of the attention economy. My memory is faulty but I am pretty sure if was in a book by Colin Lankshear but is not an idea that has it’s origin with him. The gist of it is that we are no longer in an economy dictated by supply and deman as the supply of possible things to consume far out strips the demand for these things, but now it is an economy of attention. The one (company, individual) who gets the most attention wins (succeeds, makes the most money, has the most influence).

The idea of the attention economy struck with full force as I listened to CBC radio this evening. The program dealt with the YouTube video “Bride wigs out”. The video was posted on Youtube and within weeks (days?) had had milllions of hits. The video it turns out was a ‘short’, a video produced by Unilever with the specific purpose of setting the meme “wig out” into the public consciousness. The radio show debated its effectiveness and its morality. One of the commentators said that it was an old-fashioned idea that there is a difference between private, personal space and public economic or commerical space. He mentioned that for young people in MySpace, the world is a mash of items – some cultural, some commercial, some personal and the dividing lines are blurred.

I believe he is right and I am frightened by it. We are losing or have lost, public non-commercial spaces. The public bus is splattered with advertising inside and out, personal vehicles sport the advertising of radio stations and small business, public easments can be rented for large signs built of flowers or painted on the grasses. Where do we get to go to be unsolicited as consumers?

I am a person. I am not a consumer or producer above all else. I want to take a stand for slogan free spaces. I see a real need here for advocacy and education. Can we as a society say no to ‘guerilla advertising’? Can we say no to overt advertising? Every concert hall, every sport arena is a sponsored place. My Luddite is screaming here. How do we teach about this?



Filed under blogging, curriculum, education, free speech, marketing, meme, web 2.0

6 responses to “Bridezilla and the Economy of Attention

  1. Hi Susan,

    First off, you have the right idea about dripping by sites and commenting. I’m not sure how you generate attention to have conversations. I know that when I first started, I thought that a wiki or something that would allow bloggers to add their site and a brief description might be a way to go would be a good idea. That was kind of “poopooed” by some of the more seasoned bloggers. I still think it is a good idea as more of us get into blogging. I am not really interested in reading some of the blogs that are “popular” because they don’t change their tune or offer fresh ideas. Yours is a fresh idea. What I find works well is, as bloggers, we mention each others blogs, comment on them in our own blogs. That seems to generate discussion. That is what I have been doing. I like reading from people who are not #1 on the google list. Like you, it’s real because you are in the classroom, with live kids and are struggling, as they are, to make meaning in a world that is changing faster than stinky sweat socks. I’ll add you to my blogroll, give a comment on my blog and maybe we can start a different conversation – not the netgen group but the nowgen group:-) I’ll be back and look fro a response on my blog. Don’t give up, you have much to offer!

  2. Kelly is right…while it seems the high stats folks have it made, they’ve learned the same thing you will (or have already, perhaps). It’s important to remain in the conversation, to constantly reach out and engage others, and to ensure that the engagement is authentic and real.

    For example, your entry didn’t grab me at all until I arrived at your last paragraph. I think it grabbed me because you emphasized your personhood, rather than just someone who is controlled by external forces.

    I hope you’ll realize that “a-list” bloggers are just people who are open, transparent about their thinking and learning, and pull the veil back so we can see your smile…or frown or whatever expression.

    Just someone writing to learn about his life and to invite others to share what they’ve learned,

    Miguel Guhlin
    Around the

  3. Pingback: Educational Discourse » Just a walkin’ down the street

  4. Your post reminds me of the Lonely Girl saga that Wired magazine covered a couple of months ago.

    Or the service that pays bloggers to post a blog entry complimentary to a product.

    It’s becoming increasingly unclear where we draw the line between commercial and public communication. How do we teach our students about that? Because for them, I think it is difficult to see the distinction or even the REASON for the distinction.

    Maybe if we talk to them in the language of the web? I’ve been thinking of speaking to students of Wikipedia’s “Neutral point of view” policy, because I think they might understand the point in that context, but speak to it in terms of the larger world outside Wikipedia.

    Maybe inroads exist in meeting students where they live on this topic….wikipedia, Facebook, etc. I remember the uproar on Facebook when they grabbed student info to scroll by on the site. Or the sounds of dismay when Google bought YouTube. Users do have this sense of fairness and loyalty, even to these free web 2.0 services, that I think we can tap into.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post.

  5. Thanks for dropping in. I’d love to know what brought you by. “Maybe inroads exist in meeting students where they live on this topic…” I agree and I think we need to start early, in K-5. Early technology integration and technology literacy are sometimes a tough sell with all the requirements around the three R’s and an old’fashioned literacy. I do think this is where the teacher librarian steps in to assist and collaborate with teachers, so that the doing literacy with technology toools doesn’t become overwhelming. Fairness, neutrality, trust, loyality, transparency…these might be the virtues with which to set the stage.

  6. Susan, my reply to this post is on my blog:

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