Resonant Thoughts: Zeynep Tufekci On Attention

“We lived in a world in which mass attention was mediated through the mass media, was necessarily public and not largely uniform. Everyone saw the same thing on the same media. Now we live in a world mediated by a few giant understaffed companies, individualized based on data collected on the individual user and not visible to the public, except as these platforms deign to let us know. Who is being shown what? How much? Why? We have little idea. These companies have our attention, and it’s a longer story why (though I’ve long-written about multiple parts of it: the business modelthe network-effects, the power of sociality, the preferential-attachment dynamics (meaning winner-takes-more, which often evolves into winner-takes-almost-all)) and they’re selling it to advertisers—that’s how they make money—so they must keep us users on those sites. The crisis is a crisis of attention more than a crisis of speech. In many ways, rarely in human history has it been possible to speak more, to more people, with such ease.”

Zeynep Tufekci

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