Publisher's Note

The Attention economy

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The one question lingering in my mind for sometime now, is how many of the leadership magazine readers actually read the publishers note, put otherwise do people actually read these notes? Believe you me the question pops up from time to time out of pure curiosity with no iota of vanity intended. I casually receive feedback from friends and acquaintances which only goes as far as, we saw your article and picture in leadership magazine, congratulations. None so far has ever engaged me on the content or even the topics, instead I sometimes randomly ask friends if they have read the notes. Most answers are not encouraging nonetheless I harbor no illusions.

One of the most valuable and highly contested commodities in the twenty first century is “attention”. In today’s world, business enterprises, governments, politicians, religious leaders, actors and musicians are all in constant competition for the most valuable resource, attention. As such the attention economy is one of the most rapidly growing sectors. It exhibits itself in the proliferation of communication media—television, radio, telephone, print, wireless communications, and the Internet—and the ever expanding social media.

Human attention has become the most valuable, yet scarcest resource amidst the abundance of information flow through various technologies. As argued by one author. “When there are millions of books, millions of songs, millions of films, millions of applications, millions of everything requesting our attention, and most of it free, being found is valuable.” The attention economy and social media is emerging as the great equalizer.

It is contended that attention has become a nexus of competition and strategy. The survival of almost all sectors, social, political and economic is highly depended on the ability to harness attention and turn it towards beneficial ends.

Well the downside of this proliferation of information and the use and abuse of social media is that, suddenly everyone is an expert. The social media experts parade to be knowledgeable on subject matters they can’t even comprehend. The space for experts, professionals and specialist has shrunk, they are now being forced to compete with self-anointed: Mr know it all.

Cut me some slack, I have paid my dues. When I was young especially during my high school days, there were specific publications that I had to read religiously without fail, among others it was Readers Digest ‘laughter the best medicine’, Ken Owen’s ‘Spit and polish’ in Sunday times, ‘Obituaries in the economist’ and Aggrey Klaaste editorial in Sowetan. It is therefore not an unfair expectation for some regular indulgence from readers in this publishers notes.

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Issue 414


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