TERRANOVA: Attention, Economy and the Brain

In recent years, the notion of attention has come to occupy a key place within the overall discourse surrounding what has been called ‘the new economy ‘ or ‘digital economy’, but also within the critical analyses of cultural theorists evaluating the politics of digital media. Theories of the attention economy are considered here as a continuation of the modern theme of the ‘crisis of attentiveness’ (Crary, 1999), this time elaborated in terms of the impact of Internet usage on the cognitive architecture of a neuroplastic and mimetic social brain. This essay maps some of the ways in which the notion of ‘attention’ is mobilized as an economic category within theories of the Internet, framed in terms of neoclassical or mainstream economics theory and within theories attempting to account for processes of psychic transindividuation and social cooperation in contemporary capitalism.