Attention Degrowth

No one is entitled to anyone else’s attention.

Sometimes I think that may be the most important insight beneath any design decision. Not to be combatted with manipulations, tricks, or just being a nuisance — but to be respected. The attention economy needs degrowth, too.

We need to become reacquainted with what interacting with actual other people really means. After all, if you gathered 100 people in a room to listen to you, that would be impressive indeed. One hundred people choosing to spend their precious time hearing what you have to say. And yet, on the internet, 100 is nearly equivalent to nothing. No more.

Kevin Kelly has said to strive for 1,000 true fans. As a minimum viable business, sure. But how about building a relationship with ten people by digital means. How would you do that? How long would it take? How would you start to think about attention differently?

That’s what has been on my mind lately as I dig further in to what it means to design digital things and how attention is ultimately what they’re for.


21 May 2023