This podcast is the first in a three part series focusing on Michael Goldhaber’s 1997 article, “The Attention Economy and the Net.” In this first part, which I have subtitled “Key Ideas,” I review some of the major points Goldhaber makes about the era of the attention economy he contends we are entering. The abstract of his article (linked in the podcast shownotes) is as follows: “If the Web and the Net can be viewed as spaces in which we will increasingly live our lives, the economic laws we will live under have to be natural to this new space. These laws turn out to be quite different from what the old economics teaches, or what rubrics such as “the information age” suggest. What counts most is what is most scarce now, namely attention. The attention economy brings with it its own kind of wealth, its own class divisions – stars vs. fans – and its own forms of property, all of which make it incompatible with the industrial-money-market based economy it bids fair to replace. Success will come to those who best accommodate to this new reality.” In part two of this podcast series, we will consider some of the implications of the “attention economy” for teaching and learning in the twenty-first century.


  1. Michael Goldhaber’s 1997 article, “The Attention Economy and the Net”
  2. One Red Paperclip Wikipedia entry
  3. Podcast187: Implications of the Attention Economy for Schools (Part 2 of 3)
  4. Podcast190: Implications of the Attention Economy for Schools (Part 3 of 3)

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3 Responses to Podcast174: Relevance in the Attention Economy Part 1: Key Ideas

  1. Jo Mcleay says:

    Hi Wes, just finished listening to this podcast and it is so interesting to hear your take on the matter of attention and exploring Goldhaber’s ideas. I sometimes think that you may have too many comments because of the prodigious amount of posts and podcasts you do, perhaps thinking of attention as being demands on our time as well, so it is interesting that you are still so open to comments. I also love comments, and remember that as a child there was an expectation that we should not expect attention, that to want it was called attention seeking. So I found your podcast very thought provoking and somehow affirming.

  2. Wesley Fryer says:

    Thanks for sharing your feedback Jo. I haven’t fleshed out all my own thinking about this “attention economy” stuff, but I’m hoping my making this podcast series it will help that process. I am also cognizant of the traditional discouragement we’ve been told and probably told others not to just “seek attention.” I think it is interesting consider attention as a basic human need, however, and seek a balance between a complete rejection of attention (which might not be very realistic or healthy, if indeed attention is a basic human need) and the other extreme where someone is entirely motivated by their desire for attention. I know it is very important, as both adults and a young person, to not be entirely defined by the opinions of others. I remember a tape series my mom shared with me years ago (I don’t remember the name now) where the speaker taught kids to chant something which eventually said, “Nothing you can say or do will change the fact that I am a worthwhile person with inherent value.” So there are many faces to this discussion. I may actually do this series in 3 parts, because there were several ideas I didn’t get to in this one and I don’t want these to individually be too long. I appreciate you taking the time to both listen and comment. These are important issues to consider, mull over, and discuss together!

  3. Fred Boss says:

    WOW! I have literally just set up my own blog ( )and set aquestion for others to answer and then I hear this podcast which hits the nail right on the head. I’ve been listening to your podcasts for quite a while now and after seeing the quality of these and other blogs wanted to try it out for myself – but wanted to wait until I got my head around what exactly I wanted to discuss.
    I think Web 2.0 is like a cascade of firework explosions at night – and we’re the kids again focussing our attention on the many shiny sights – some last with us and some don’t. As an art teacher too it’s interesting to see how different kids focus on different paintings and get something from them that no-one else does. Maybe we are looking for attention as much as others want to grab our attention. It’ll be interesting to see if Web 2.0’s dust will ever settle or just coalesce into a brand new galaxy. Keep up the good work.

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