The Attention Merchants: The Epic Struggle to Get Inside Our Heads (Paperback)
  • The Attention Merchants: The Epic Struggle to Get Inside Our Heads (Paperback)

The Attention Merchants: The Epic Struggle to Get Inside Our Heads (Paperback)

Paperback 432 Pages / Published: 07/09/2017
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Attention merchant: an industrial-scale harvester of human attention. A firm whose business model is the mass capture of attention for resale to advertisers.
In nearly every moment of our waking lives, we face a barrage of advertising enticements, branding efforts, sponsored social media, commercials and other efforts to harvest our attention. Over the last century, few times or spaces have remained uncultivated by the 'attention merchants', contributing to the distracted, unfocused tenor of our times. Tim Wu argues that this is not simply the byproduct of recent inventions but the end result of more than a century's growth and expansion in the industries that feed on human attention. From the pre-Madison Avenue birth of advertising to TV's golden age to our present age of radically individualized choices, the business model of 'attention merchants' has always been the same. He describes the revolts that have risen against these relentless attempts to influence our consumption, from the remote control to FDA regulations to Apple's ad-blocking OS. But he makes clear that attention merchants grow ever-new heads, and their means of harvesting our attention have given rise to the defining industries of our time, changing our nature - cognitive, social, and otherwise - in ways unimaginable even a generation ago.

Publisher: Atlantic Books
ISBN: 9781782394853
Number of pages: 432
Weight: 398 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 30 mm
Edition: Main

[Tim Wu] writes books that make a big impact... The Attention Merchants is a sobering and significant book. * John Naughton, The Guardian *
'Wu writes about the uglier consequences of our great migration to the web with the bruised zeal of an ex-millenarian.' * The Times *
'Wu is much better than most, partly because he is a sceptic, but mainly because he has narrative flair and an eye for the most telling examples.' * The Sunday Times *
In this revelatory book, Tim Wu tells the story of how advertisers and programmers came to seize control of our eyes and minds. The Attention Merchants deserves everyone's attention. * Nicholas Carr, author of THE SHALLOWS *
[Wu] could hardly have chosen a better time to publish a history of attention-grabbing... He traces a sustained march of marketers further into our lives. * Financial Times *
'Wu's book ... record[s] the extraordinarily successful attempts by advertisers to occupy more and more of our attention over the past 100 years.' * Ben Tarnoff, The Guardian *
I couldn't put this fascinating book down. Gripping from page one with its insight, vivid writing, and panoramic sweep, [it] is also a book of urgent importance, revealing how our preeminent industries work to fleece our consciousness rather than help us cultivate it. * Amy Chua, Yale Law Professor and author of BATTLE HYMN OF THE TIGER MOTHER *
A profoundly important book... Attention itself has become the currency of the information age, and, as Wu meticulously and eloquently demonstrates, we allow it to be bought and sold at our peril. * James Gleick, author of TIME TRAVEL: A HISTORY *

The question of how to get people to care about something important to you is central to religion, government, commerce, and the arts. For more than a century, America has experimented with buying and selling this attention, and Wu's history of that experiment is nothing less than a history of the human condition and its discontents.

-- Cory Doctorow * BOING BOING *
Forget subliminal seduction: every day, we are openly bought and sold, as this provocative book shows. * Kirkus *
[A] startling and sweeping examination of the increasingly ubiquitous commercial effort to capture and commodify our attention * New Republic *
Illuminating * New York Review of Books *
[An] energetic and original new book * London Review of Books *

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