The Attention Merchants

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How do merchants steal your attention?

Hi, welcome to Bookey. Today we will unlock the book “Attention Merchants”: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads.

Everyone is familiar with the concept of attention. Both people and animals with normal body functions have the ability to focus their attention at will. This skill can be produced at any time and is inexhaustible. We normally believe that only scarce and non-renewable resources are valuable. However, there is a small group of people who not only view attention as a resource, but also desire to turn this resource into a commodity.

Consider our daily life: In our spare time, we log onto Facebook, listen to music, read push messages, and go to Amazon to fill up our shopping cart. When it’s time to be productive, we try to concentrate on our work, but unable to stop ourselves from randomly opening a webpage. The news that pops up is a hot topic we’ve been following recently. We open Ebay after browsing the news. The front page shows products similar to the one we searched yesterday. Before we know it, it is near noon, and we haven’t even started our work.

Our reliance on electronic products has reached an unprecedented level. We pick up the phone as soon as we open our eyes. When compared to our spouse, our smartphone seems to be a more suitable partner. We feel short of breath and flustered when we are apart from it even for a little while. Why do we react like this? Why is there so much information pouring in every day? In the face of all this information, we are anxious if we don’t read them, but we are even more anxious when we do. These electronic resources seem to penetrate our minds and constantly attract our attention.

It might surprise you to hear this, but this is the result of the market’s 200 years of continuous efforts to manipulate people’s attention. This begs the question, how are they able to control people’s minds? What kind of growth has this industry experienced? And what insights can we get from it? The book “Attention Merchants” gives us the answers.

Tim Wu, the author of this book, was named one of the top 50 science and technology leaders by “Scientific American”, and is ranked among the top 100 most influential graduates of Harvard University. He put forward the theory of "network neutrality", and is the person with the most insight in to media transformation, network evolution and information.

This book explains how the public's attention is harvested through free media and became a realizable commodity over the timespan of 200 years. It then explains how, after attention became a business, media and advertisers competed for the public’s attention in this long-running battle. It also shows how the public give out their attention unconsciously. We must now take a look at what life was like about 200 years ago in order to understand the full story.

We are going to unlock this book in detail by dividing it in to three parts.

Part One: Merchants make the attention as a modern business.

Part Two: The increasing competition for people’s attention.

Part Three: The Internet is attracting attention everywhere.

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