Attention Assemblage

Within 24/7 capitalism, a sociality outside of the individual self-interest becomes inexorably depleted, and the interhuman basis of public space is made irrelevant to one’s fantasmatic digital insularity.

Jonatan Crary 2013

Today’s current model for capitalism and information revolves around the theory of “24/7 temporality” (Crary, 2013), we have an abundance of information that is readily available for consumption outside of natural perceptions of time. It is understandable then that there might be a shift in the way that, what we could call the “business model” of the internet, would change, as values shift.

From this week’s readings I have gathered that the currency of the contemporary information age is based on old models of capitalism where information is exchanged for profit/information but that the way we understand profit is shifting. The intangible notion of Attention “can ground [as] an economy because it is a fundamental human desire and is intrinsically, unavoidably scarce” (Goldhaber, 1997).  The way that we consume information is informed by preexisting, or rather more traditional methods of consumption. Whilst new technologies change how much and when we access information, the question of why is informed by our public practices – what our friends and family are interested in and recommend, what is needed for work, etc. These are what draw our attention, the things that are important to the individual as informed by their public. The new Net economy would be to identify these informers of attention and marketing attention in return for attention.

But how does a capitalist regime of attention currency fit with the emergence of The Commons?

The Commons goals are “for large numbers of people of diverse ideological stripes” to come together to “chart a new, more cooperative direction for modern society.” A capitalist society depends on hierarchies of ideology, that commoditoes in demand are exclusive to only those who can afford them, to open the commodities up to the collective and share them freely would be a clash in ideals, essentially capitalism vs. communism.

The Commons transcend capitalism in a fourfold way: ending, fulfilling, preserving, elevating. They end the logics of exclusion of capitalism and replace them with inclusion as social principle. They fulfill the promises of individual unfolding of personality. They preserve meaningful achievements and products. They elevate human needs to the norm of societal mediation and its satisfaction to the meaning of societal life.

Stefan Merratz

It would seem the two concepts are fundamentally at odds and that the future economy of the Net can go either way. Unless hybridized.