In today’s information economy, value is generated by those who create information desirable by others as well as by those who organize the Internet and flow this information through it such that it arrives at the attention of others who may appreciate it.
This “attention economy”, a subset of the information economy, is becoming more relevant than ever with the information explosion we have been experiencing in recent years. As content becomes easier to create, and as the friction in replicating and spreading of information approaches zero, the economy created around attention, a rate-limiting step in the consumption of information, takes centre stage.
Much of this creation and curation activity is done by people who did not take part in this economy before the Internet existed, and are, for the most part, simple participants in it. This User Generated Content (UGC) market has skyrocketed in the past decade, creating platforms – content hubs and social networks, where people upload and move digital information – relying almost solely on user contributions in a way that was unimaginable before. However, while much of the value in these platforms is created by these users, they see little in terms of reward – monetary or otherwise for their work.
Largely, this is the result of a reliance on these platforms as intermediaries. Centralized entities, dominant monopolies in their niche of content type and audience, have completely cornered the markets solely by virtue of having offered a simple online service, placing themselves between hosted content and its audience, at the right place and time. Synereo argues that these services are significantly less important than the economy they underlie, and that it is time to liberate this economy from their hands.