Can Users Become Full-Fledged Links in Attention Economy and Receive Benefits?


We’ve got witnessed a growth in digital media and content material within the final decade, and we’re nonetheless adapting to its penalties. The media panorama has turn into fragmented and sophisticated, with a always rising variety of on-line platforms. A complete new promoting market has appeared that bombards customers with 1000’s of advertisements on the web. Consequently, customers’ consideration is now exhausting to catch, and tech corporations are preventing for it as a result of it’s monetizable. The eye financial system is huge, however its present mechanisms elevate moral questions. 

The Present Attention Economy

For now, the best way tech companies gather and make the most of customers’ knowledge is the first concern. We use social media, serps, and different free digital companies. The businesses behind them monitor and use our knowledge to make a revenue by promoting focused advertisements.

And in some circumstances, our knowledge might act as a gas not just for conventional promoting. For instance, just a few years in the past, the scandal brought on by Fb leaking its customers’ knowledge to the political agency Cambridge Analytica was fairly enormous. Allegedly, the leak has impacted the U.S. presidential elections as a result of it has given Donald Trump the possibility to create a simpler marketing campaign.

Tech companies usually search to know our location, age, historical past of purchases, hobbies, relationship standing, and different private data. The issue is that we don’t actually have a full image of the amount and sort of knowledge extracted from our on-line actions every single day.

Corporations observe folks on the web. Then they use the gathered knowledge to get income, so no marvel the Harvard professor and social psychologist Shoshana Zuboff calls it surveillance capitalism

Some see it as a rip-off. Tech corporations might create merchandise, however these merchandise can’t generate any revenue themselves with out customers. Customers do their share of the work every time they publish one thing. So, the trouble comes from each events, however just one financially advantages from it.

As well as, folks lose time within the present consideration financial system. They’ve to look at internet marketing, which is difficult to keep away from nowadays. Our consideration equals time, and we will’t repurchase it.

And Its Unfairness

After all, some bloggers can make thousands and thousands of dollars with their content material. Nonetheless, social media customers usually don’t get any cash from companies like Fb and Twitter for the information they’re creating. However for many customers, the fact is ugly. In 2020, Web guru and technologist Tim O’Reilly calculated how a lot cash a consumer would make monthly if Fb returned its revenue for data-generated revenue: the quantity can be lower than $1 monthly for a US consumer. Likewise, O’Reilly assessed that an Indian consumer’s ‘knowledge price ticket’ would fall to a stunning lower than $1 a yr.

There may be much more: positive, we’re those who produce the content material. Nonetheless, that content material doesn’t belong to us if we press the button to publish it on-line. All of our knowledge by some means turns into the property of those corporations. Not solely do they promote the information, however they’ll delete something you place out on their apps and websites in the event that they don’t prefer it whereas holding all of the posts that you just delete your self.

This technique makes customers into objects relatively than actors of the worth chain. So first, the world noticed the eye financial system as a battleground for firms. Then this situation turned a sizzling matter for debate. And lately, it’s turning into increasingly evident that the battle ought to be between the firms and customers. 

Why We Nonetheless Want That Knowledge

What could appear the simplest and quickest solution to change the system? Most likely, to ban tech companies from gathering customers’ private data utterly. However it’s not the perfect answer. As a result of, in reality, that knowledge might be helpful for us. For instance, for any analysis that’s about people, which can imply their conduct and even well being. 

“What is required within the face of world issues corresponding to local weather change, migration, a precarious and uncontrolled worldwide finance system, the ever-present hazard of pandemics, to not communicate of geopolitical ‘warfare of all in opposition to all’ on the worldwide stage, is a viable and provoking imaginative and prescient of a world future. Furthermore, the worldwide community society is data-driven. Subsequently, an important reforms or initiatives we should always count on are these making obtainable extra knowledge of a greater high quality to extra folks and establishments,” David J. Krieger, director of Switzerland’s Institute for Communication and Management, once said; whereas being in opposition to clickbait, filter bubbles, faux information, and different detrimental social media elements.

Moreover, the information generated helps builders enhance the client expertise. What’s extra, it helps provide customers extra related merchandise, making our lives simpler. Focused advertisements are important for small native companies. They usually don’t have any different device for efficient promotion apart from Instagram. So these small ventures make the financial system more healthy and supply us with companies and items that we like and want. 

Anyway, we should make clear the method of gathering and storing users’ data. With this, people who find themselves not concerned in tech can see and perceive the place their private data goes and the way it’s getting used. Sadly, primary digital literacy doesn’t at present come near being frequent data. Solely after spreading some fundamentals can we wake folks up and encourage them to begin making selections about their knowledge utilization.

Pathways to Change

There may be an intensive dialog concerning the wrongfulness of the present system that monetizes customers’ knowledge. The most well-liked concept is to make folks the house owners of their very own knowledge and earn cash utilizing it. The idea sounds easy, but it surely requires drastic modifications in knowledge assortment and sale. Pc scientist and futurist from Silicon Valley, Jaron Lanier, suggests that we have to create new establishments for this to occur. 

These establishments will collect knowledge from customers in return for some financial compensation. Lanier sees it as one thing resembling an insurance coverage firm. Folks will select to whom they may carry their knowledge based mostly on these corporations’ affords. Lanier’s imaginative and prescient assertion appears to be a promising possibility. On the similar time, he notes that many individuals don’t consider such an concept can work out, they usually would possibly hand over on it earlier than attempting. 

Lanier is pessimistic about customers’ eagerness to battle for possession of their knowledge. Nonetheless, there are already legislative modifications that will enhance the scenario. For example, California’s Client Privateness Act grants web customers the proper to delete their knowledge and opt-out of their private knowledge sale.

The Act doesn’t point out paying folks for his or her knowledge, however businessman and lawyer Andrew Yang sees it as a primary step to turning issues round. He needs the regulation to acknowledge private knowledge as property and make companies pay customers for it. 

Furthermore, with celebrities like rapper and entrepreneur Will.I.Am beginning to discuss private knowledge safety, and individuals are turning into extra conscious of the issue. A study by Insights Community exhibits that 90% of U.S. customers discover it unethical that their private knowledge is being shared with out consent, and 65% of respondents really feel uncomfortable about it being shared with companies for revenue.

Internet 3.0’s Guarantees to Repair the Scenario

Recently, the promise to place customers accountable for their very own knowledge comes from Web 3.0 (also referred to as Web3) fanatics. Based on its concept, large tech companies is not going to dominate Web3, and it’ll thus keep fairer. Nonetheless, Web3 builders additionally follow the logic that customers ought to be paid for his or her knowledge.

For example, the Courageous Browser is from javascript creator Mozilla basis co-founder Brendan Eich. Common net browsers get extra trackers to build up our knowledge with every new replace. Web sites even have their very own trackers, like cookies. The Courageous Browser reduces the variety of trackers that may monitor an everyday web surfer, thus enhancing their privateness.  

The Courageous Browser workforce has created the Primary Consideration Token, the cryptocurrency meant to supply customers with cost for his or her knowledge. It’s open-source and clear. Customers will get Primary Consideration Tokens for anonymously viewing advertisements. Later they’ll change them for another cryptocurrency or fiat cash. This strategy helps advertisers, as effectively, by offering them with greater high quality knowledge for focused advertisements.  

The factor about Web3 is that now it doesn’t appear any higher or totally different from what might be accomplished with Web2. So, blockchain will not be a magic wand that may repair the issue in some distinctive manner. It nonetheless requires digital literacy, and it’s already getting its personal energy buildings resembling these seen in Internet 2.0.

Furthermore, there can’t be the entire decentralization promised by the Web3 pioneers. Plus, the standard of code will not be excellent, which makes it unstable to hackers’ assaults. 


At present there isn’t any doubt that the present patterns of the eye financial system ought to be reformed. The primary motive is to offer customers extra management over their private knowledge. There may be a wide range of concepts about how this may be achieved. It seems to be like we might sooner or later have a satisfying answer. And even quite a few them, be they in Web2 or Web3.

However it gained’t occur quick. So, for now, the tech neighborhood ought to pave the best way for this revolution by spreading digital literacy amongst folks at giant. On this path, we’ve got a whole lot of meals for thought and a whole lot of work.

Picture Credit score: William Fortunato; Pexels; Thanks!

Vitaly Gerko

CPO and Co-founder of OTM, a technological programmatic platform acquired in 2021 by VEON international digital operator.
Over 15 years of expertise in AdTech and MarTech industries, main the event of tech merchandise. Stable experience in product administration, unit financial system, and paid advertising and marketing which resulted in a 5+ yr journey in startup mentoring and investing.

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