Excerpt from an insightful book review (along with a brief Tim Wu Q&A); on a related note, see How to Destroy the Business Model of Breitbart and Fake News (NYT)
"The Attention Merchants chronicles the attempts that publishers and entrepreneurs have made to capture and resell human attention over nearly two centuries, from Day in 1833 to BuzzFeed, Instagram, Google and Facebook today, with a major detour into state propaganda (Britain during the first world war, Goebbels during the second) along the way.Tim Wu: ‘The internet is like the classic story of the party that went sour’ | Technology | The Guardian
In large measure, this is a story of communication technologies, starting with print, moving on to broadcast media (radio, television) and winding up with the internet and the technologies it has spawned (email, blogging, search engines, social media). But the striking feature of the book is the way it interweaves this story of technological development with two other strands. The first is an account of how the human subjects whose attention is being sought eventually rebel, giving rise to outbreaks of resistance that sometimes lead to regulatory intervention, but more often to changes of tack by the attention merchants. The second strand is a series of meditations on the cultural implications of the attention merchants’ success."