Monetizing attention

I'm beginning to understand the revolution. In ye olden days of the copy economy, we paid professionals -- journalists, writers, film makers, musicians --  for their content. Books, movies, newspapers and the other containers of information and entertainment were considered things of monetary value. Thus we had entire industries that revolved around the discovery, refinement and distribution of this content.

Then something happened. It wasn't just the Internet, although the online revolution is heavily involved in this great transformation. But the value of the information and entertainment shifted from the content itself to the creators of that content. So it became more important who was creating the content than what was being created. And then the copy lost its monetary exchange value -- reduced to zero by digital technology.

Thus the game shifted. Rather than selling their content, creative people had to grab their audience's attention in order to sell them something other than the copy. The Internet -- and specifically post Web 2.0 plays like Twitter -- became a place where that old class of media professionals competed for attention. As I explain today on InternetEvolution:

The next big thing has finally arrived:Twitter's ascent marks the end of the Web 2.0 period (1999-2009) and the beginning of what I would call, without any originality, the "attention economy." READ ON

The revolution is simple. In the copy economy, audiences paid for content; in the attention economy, content creators will pay to be heard. I'm not sure what that will do to either the message or the messenger (read my book if you really want to know) -- but, as I argue in today's InternetEvolution piece, our new attention economy offers an interesting new business model to post Web 2.0 companies like Twitter.