Recommendation: Joe Marchese on the attention economy

This is an interesting piece from REDEF on what happens next in the competition for our ears, eyeballs and thoughts, with a link to a reading list at the bottom.

Recommend.

Organic food became a multibillion-dollar industry as people took a greater interest in what they put in their bodies. The markets will be even bigger that are shaped as people begin to pay greater attention to, and regain control over, what they put in their brains.  The government may even play a role here, but will not need to be as heavy-handed as has been suggested. The solutions that come next will represent a new age of media companies: quantified-self applications for your media habits to help you optimize your “attention diet.” New Operating Systems for recommending entertainment (aka new “TV Guide”). Technology that better values people’s attention and data. Technologies that help people better connect IRL (In Real Life).

Joe MarcheseThe Attention Economy Crisis: The Future of Content, Commerce and Culture

New axes (play your own game)

As in “axis”, plural – sorry if you’re disappointed.

We can’t win at everything.

The good news is that you’re in charge of what you’re competing on.

Kids find this hard to learn, but it’s true: if you’re not racing, you can’t be beaten.

We do well when we remember this when we’re tempted to compare our cars and homes, families and relationships, careers and organisations with others’.

It’s so easy to slip into playing someone else’s game – for example, by starting to compete on “bank balance” with someone who runs their life to maximise for money, or on “shiny office” with an organisation that’s maximising for ostentation, or on “Objective score” with someone who’s maximising for test results.

This always feels bad. But worse, it can fool you into taking your eye off the the things that really matter and forget the game you’re really playing – which inevitably means starting to play it badly.

Think hard – think very hard – about what matters most, about the games (there are always games within games within games) you want to play, and what axes you’ll measure success on. You’ll certainly need to remind yourself of these from time to time, and it will be helpful to remind your team and customers too.

You’ll almost always lose on other people’s axes… which might turn out not to be as bad as winning a game that’s not for you. On the right axes, you might end up delighted even if you lose.

Play. Your. Own. Game.

When there’s no competition left

96-year-old Roy Englert runs 42-minute 5K to shatter age-group world record.

Englert, 96, runs 5000m in 42:30.23 to set age-group record.

Virginia native already held the records in 800m and 1500m.

Englert, a retired attorney, credits his late-career success to not to any natural gift but dogged persistence.

“I don’t consider myself that much of an inspiration. I’m a slow runner,” he told Run Washington. “But I guess I’ve outlasted almost everybody. It gets easier to win when there’s not as much competition around.”

Guardian Sport, Friday 19th July 2019

Here’s to modest, slow runners who show up generously and stick around.

Champion, or Ways to Win (1)

There are a couple of types of champion:

Noun 1 A person who has surpassed all rivals in a sporting contest or other competition [as modifier‘a champion hurdler’ [OED]

This is the winner, the vanquisher of foes. We all enjoy being this kind of champion – as individuals (probably especially as individuals) and as part of a team (“We are the champions”).

There are good champions and bad ones – heroes and villains, magnanimous victors and churls – but champions are a good thing. It’s fun to strive for something, it’s motivating to compete, and more often than not we like it when someone wins.

It’s also fleeting (“This year’s champions”), and – if you think about it in the wrong way – sets you up for inevitable failure. Sooner or later, someone else will be the champion.

And the things that we can win definitively are rarely important, and rarely satisfying in the long run. They are small, clearly defined, rule-constrained, finite games*.

When we’re striving to win these games, it’s worth double checking what we’re burning up to get there – time, energy, materials, relationships, opportunities – and weighing carefully what we get in return, because ‘fun’ is really the main thing we get from being a champion.

In the morning, life goes on.

All the other rewards of being a champion – prizes, status, the stories we tell ourselves about who we are as winners, and what we say about everyone else – take their meaning from other games we play.

More on this tomorrow.

*See this post, or go straight to James Carse‘s Finite and Infinite Games