Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sustaining Attention

Top 20

I just learned that the p2173/JustMeans cross-post, "The Customer is always Right" was picked up as a top 20 blog post.


Here is my most recent post, "Sustaining Attention," from All Things Reconsidered, the JustMeans blog (Save yourself a click or two):

Sustaining attention

I was at a meeting earlier this week with about 40 people, assembled around a large U shaped table. As the moderator led a round of introductions, the folks on one side the room gave their names, current professional titles and always added something like “former reporter for the small city Times,” or “former editor for the big city Journal,” or “former writer for mid-region Tribune.”

On the other side of the table, occupied by much younger people from a much more diverse set of racial and ethnic backgrounds, the introductions came fast and furious: “community and media organizer,” “entrepreneur and blogger,” “activist and podcaster,” “executive director and radio show producer.”

On the first side of the table were people who had once had jobs as media professionals. On the second side of the table were people who viewed the media as an integral part of their work, whatever that work happened to be. As one participant explained, “we do youth organizing, which means we are a media organization.”

This is an important pattern to consider as we think about sustainable businesses, sustainable careers, and the multi-sector blending that is part of the social justice work, environmental activism, clean tech development and global health interests of the Just Means community. Information is everywhere and we all produce and consume it – through print, online, visual displays, audio sources, in games, at our desks, in meetings and on our daily jogs. All of us wear many hats, all of us consume and produce media - - how do these things fit together as we focus on sustainable work? Here are some thoughts:

  • Everyone in your company or organization needs to be thinking about customers and how to listen to them, learn from them, and reach them with the information they want – this can’t be the job of just the marketing department.
  • The same shifts that are busy reverberating through news businesses – putting all those reporters and writers and editors into the “former” categories – are also shaping your company. Do you know how? What is your plan to capitalize on the changes rather than be swept away by them?
  • If you do youth organizing, or environmental activism, or create clean products, or are providing new capital to social enterprises – aren’t you also a media organization?

Some pundits describe the current economy as the information or knowledge economy, others have started to call it an attention economy – either way, the question comes down to this - how does information, analysis, and media factor into your work? Are those practices sustainable?


Michael H. Goldhaber said...

Actually I originated the term Attention Economy, which was taken from my old website without much understanding by Davenport and Beck, whom you cite. The actual Attention Economy has many important ramifications for organizers. You can find out more about it at my blog mostly on the subject. See also my old article
Michael H. Goldhaber

Lucy Bernholz said...


Great! Thanks for letting me know.