attention must be paid
the central question that occupies my brain most days is: what do people pay attention to? think about the phrase: pay attention.
attention is the most valuable thing in the world. it is brain juice. it is focus. it is the impetus behind all activities. it is the force behind reason. it is also the force behind instinct. attention motivates all. if you can’t get people to pay attention, you can’t do shit.
remember that line from “death of a salesman”:
“attention must be paid to such a person!”
willy lowman’s wife was talking about poor old willy. no one would take his calls anymore. no one would buy his stuff. he could no longer get anyone’s attention. he tried and tried. he used to succeed, but not anymore. it was a tragedy, american style.
until i worked in the industry, i had little conception of the profound force television has on sculpting the daily reality and dominating the attention of most members of the world. if not because they are watching it (the average person watches 8.5 hours a day) then because commerce, politics and culture all ebb and flow based on the sight sound and motion that occurs on the set. nothing is as powerful as video for getting people’s attention on a mass scale.
for the past sixty years businesses have relied on television advertising to sell their products and services. politicians have used it to promote themselves, and their platforms. the tv and movie industries place the lion’s share of their focus on television ads and promotions. it was the best way to gather a large audience, focus their attention and get results. it still is.
as we delve deeper into the age of interactive media, television itself is being redesigned to incorporate the best aspects of the web. there’s this thing now called tv widgets … people who have web-connected tv’s can set up their sets to overlay information of their choosing on top of the set. just like you have rss feeds show up on your netvibes or igoogle page, you can have them show up on your tv set. That is if your set is equipped with the right chip, and is connected to the internet.
the technology is just now making its debut, and at this point and a lot of details have to be worked out regarding how the physical real estate on the tv set will be divvied up. but it’s going to happen. television will become personalized, interactive and non-linear.
once that occurs – whether it’s three years from now or sooner – it’s gonna be even tougher to reach a large crowd and to actually get and hold their attention. economies of scale are shrinking. the sweetspot is becoming harder and harder to find.
not a revelation by any means, i know, but i obsess on it nonetheless. it will affect all aspects of society. i can’t wait to find out how it will look.