Monday, September 25, 2006

Social Networks and Attention

I was at dinner with Howard Rheingold organised at the very last moment by Ian Forrester. It was a very good evening thoroughly enjoyed. But this post isn't about the actual dinner but a comment made by one of the attendees.

Discussion had turned to "The Daily Show" and "Colbert Report." Then the comment was made "I watch 'The Daily Show' but not the 'Colbert Report' as I am sure with my social network that if there is something really funny on the 'Colbert Report', I will find out about it" or words to that effect.

The comment shows an interesting trend in managing attention. People are using their social networks to expand the amount of attention they have. By relying on different parts of your social network to pay attention for interesting items effectively expands the amount of attention a user has.

What is the impact of this? I'm not sure as I haven't had the chance to fully think the implications through. Top of the head is that it will complicate the monetisation of attention. It also indicates that making very general social networks profitable will not be easy. The better route is adding social networking features around a series of more focused websites. Shades of the old Geocites and AngelFire?

The other side of the coin is that this is an interesting adaptation by an individual to managing information overload.

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Ian Forrester said...

Thank you for coming, hope to do it again with more time next time.

Simon Cast said...

It was a good night. Look forward to the next geek dinner.