Attention Economy / by Yu Cao

Attention is the way in which commodities are consumed. It is “how we think of stuff,” which means “fluff.” A shift of consumption pattern is from stuff to fluff. We consume how we consume--how we see, perceive and think. Attention is when objects are presented to consciousness, that is “per se for consciousness.” Connecting Richard A. Lanham’s “economics of attention” with Hegel’s phenomenology of spirit, what is attention? How is it different from knowledge?

Economics is defined as “the study of how human beings allocate scarce resource to produce various commodities and how those commodities are distributed for consumption among the people in society.” In the contemporary situation where we consume not only objects per se, but also how we think of objects--”per se for consciousness,” the notion of “resource,” “commodity,” and “consumption” need to be redefined.

Commodity is attention structure--the organization/composition of “per se for consciousness.” Scarce resource is filtering of information. Consumption is succession of the modes of consciousness in its own necessity of originating new object--“per se for consciousness.” Attention is when we see the arising of the content of the new object. This succession is “recollection” of “spiritual forms”, the “intellectually comprehended organization” of which is “knowledge”.

    Attention economy is the inevitable awareness arising from the externalization of self consciousness in the collective sense. It is born out of Spirit’s own necessity and healthy for Spirit to live to its real essence.