The Worth of an Eyeball


As an editor of anthologies, I would like to pay the people who contribute. And pay something meaningful. Yet the one anthology pays a meager $25 a page and the other no money at all.

But, I've heard it said, the real currency of the information economy is attention.

So allow me to posit this question: What is the monetary equivalence of attention? Is it measurable? Is it always measurable through the same means? What thinkest thou?


  1. Here's the problem with attacking things from this angle: yes, there's an attention crunch, but there are no indications yet that attention can be monetized because there is an overabundance of free content, including social. The only real way so far to monetize attention is via Google AdWords, but any real money with those requires hundreds of thousands if not millions of page views because click through rates on ads are miserable.

    I'd say that the real currency of the information economy is not attention but participation. You can do something with participation. Attention is too fleeting and the expectation is that there is plenty of free stuff that one can pay attention to.

  2. .

    Mm, participation. That sounds right to me.

  3. I agree, Wm.

    In addition, there probably shouldn't be any good way to monetize attention, lest the Internet become the exclusive domain of the intellectual Wal-Mart - that is, vendors who value abundance, easy access, or novelty over substance.

    Participation, on the other hand is usually only gained by offering something the audience really cares about on some level. Only grocery store samples of premium products are effective.

    As long as that's the case, there will be the potential for monetization. People are still willing, in my experience, to pay for what they care about, but how many people buy a bad cheese just because someone let them have a cube of it for free?

  4. Sorry, I should have said,

    "lest the information marketplace become the exclusive domain of the intellectual Wal-Mart"