Monday 23 April 2012

WEB206 - Week 8: The Attention Economy

The Web has brought with it a number of challenges for the professional writer. How do we present information in an age where there is an overabundance of it? How do we engage readers when another page is just a click away? And, of course, the big question of the moment - "What happens to news organisations and media institutions when everyone is potentially an author?".

As the media landscape has changed, so too have audience expectations and demands. Traditional media outlets can no longer rely on dedicated and restrictive channels that ensure a captive audience, but must instead contend with everybody else in what has been termed the 'attention economy'. Over the next two weeks we will be looking specifically at ways in which writers on the Web can tailor content and respond to changing audience expectations.

This week's readings:
Shirky, C. (2002). Weblogs and the Mass Amateurization of Publishing. Retrieved October 13th, 2009, from
Anderson, C. (2004). The Long Tail. Retrieved September 9th, 2009, from
Kelly, K. (2008). Better Than Free. Retrieved October 24th, 2009, from

What is your reaction to Shirky's claim that the Web and Weblogs have made publishing a "financially worthless activity"?

How might the ideas Kelly proposes be relevant to your chosen topic/field? Can you think of examples of people working in this field who have used some of these ideas?

In what other ways do you think it might be possible to add value to information for your readers?

This is quite funny on reflection, but reading Shirky's article actually set me off thinking again about an idea I'd had last year that I'd abandoned due to lack of time. After spending the best part of last week nosing around looking into a whole bunch of stuff that had very little to do with "Web Publishing" - I'm now back on Blackboard! Sorry about falling behind (again). They say that study opens the mind - right?! :>

Anyway - after thinking about it and reading the other posts here, I'm now not so sure about Shirky and his "financially worthless" suggestion. While it's probably true that not many people are making much money today based on current models, the models themselves are changing too. Tying that in with Kelly's ideas about immediacy, personalisation, etc. - you only have to come up with a new way of doing or presenting something and everyone else will be off and running trying to catch up. Look at smartphone apps, for instance - I'm a recent adoptee of "Draw Something". Nobody says anything, nobody does anything spectacular, one of the silliest games I've ever played - but the creators of that game recently sold it for $200 million, after almost going broke! Imagine even five years ago, somebody suggesting that anybody could make $200 million out of a game on a phone. If you then add in Kelly's "1,000 true fans" ideas - well, I just think, never say never.

Writing Task. Available at:


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