Cognitive Economy: The role of Attention

by Tom Carroll

In the cognitive economy the role of attention is primarily that of an abstract currency. Attention (in all of its forms) like Dollars, Euros and Pounds will have a value that is ubiquitous and easily measured by all parties. Markets can be created (think something like Root Markets) to speculate upon and trade attention. In the early stages of the cognitive economy attention exchange will be the primary source of revenue for all parties.

An interesting thing about attention is, as a currency it requires more collaborative valuation and regulation processes. Traditionally currency is created, regulated, and valued by a centralized authority and its designated markets. The fact that attention is created and valued in a distributed system by individuals, means there will be no one regulatory body to control it. This in my opinion is both a strength and weakness of attention.

Some strengths of attention are:

  • it allows for a very customizable valuation model, depending on the parties involved and the context.
  • flexible transaction structures and terms.
  • it retains value over time.
  • it can be traded multiple times.
  • it is highly portable.
  • is independant of borders and governments (this is not completely true, think China and the middle east).
  • its supply is only limited by our imaginations and our time on this earth.

Some weaknesses of attention are:

  • an individual can have control of their attention co-opted by third parties.
  • value models can poisoned and manipulated by monopolies and governments.
  • it can be shared without authorization.
  • one can be overwhelmed with the amount created and its complexity.

Some day we will have to claim on our tax returns the value received from exchanging our attention since most of the value will be in a non-traditional form (not dollars).

We as individuals must work to assert control over our attention, it’s our currency. The Attention Trust is a non-profit organization whose mission is to help the individual own and benefit from their attention. So, if you want understand more about attention and your rights go to www.attentiontrust.org and look around. (disclosure: I am member of the Attention Trust)

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