Attention economics is an approach to the management of information that treats human attention as a scarce commodity and applies economic theory to solve various information management problems. According to Matthew Crawford, “Attention is a resource—a person has only so much of it.”

In this perspective, Thomas H. Davenport and John C. Beck define the concept of attention: “Attention is focused mental engagement on a particular item of information. Items come into our awareness, we attend to a particular item, and then we decide whether to act.”

As content has grown increasingly abundant and immediately available, attention becomes the limiting factor in the consumption of information.


[I]n an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.

(“Attention Economy” 2022)

Related: Continuous partial attention. This is one of my Favorites.


“Attention Economy.” 2022. Wikipedia, November.