“Our life experiences would ultimately amount to whatever we had paid attention to.” – William James
The Attention Merchants, written by Tim Wu, is an intense, mind-opening journey, that shows us how the cultivation and commercialization of human attention started long before the recent technological advancements.
From newspapers to the radio and television, from advertising to Influencers, from political propaganda to reality shows and the internet, the basic model of the attention industry has not changed: it has just refined its ability to penetrate any sphere of our lives, blurring the boundaries between private and public, user and producer.
Reading about the early days of advertising, snake-oil salesmen, the rise and fall of the utopian internet, has been a riveting, immersive and mind-boggling experience. I found myself connecting dots and making sense of things, remembering names, events and silent revolutions.
In the limelight, the idea that we, as human beings, are in continuous negotiation with the Attention Industry, and more often than not, we are not aware of what is at stake.