Danah Boyd on Streams of Content, Limited Attention

I doubt this cultural shift will be paid for by better advertising models. Advertising is based on capturing attention, typically by interrupting the broadcast message or by being inserted into the content itself. Trying to reach information flow is not about being interrupted. Advertising does work when it’s part of the flow itself. Ads are great when they provide a desirable answer to a search query or when they appear at the moment of purchase. But when the information being shared is social in nature, advertising is fundamentally a disruption.

Figuring out how to monetize sociality is a problem. And not one new to the Internet. Think about how we monetize sociality in physical spaces. Typically, it involves second-order consumption of calories. Venues provide a space for social interaction to occur and we are expected to consume to pay rent. Restaurants, bars, cafes… they all survive on this model. But we have yet to find the digital equivalent of alcohol.

Danah Boyd’s actual presentation at the Web2.0 Expo of this talk didn’t go down very well*, however her unedited crib notes are well worth reading.

*We’ve discussed the value of conference twittering before on this blog and this certainly is an example of when the back channel doesn’t work to anyone’s benefit. It is particularly disappointing where a presenter walks away feeling like she did. If you aren’t prepared to say it to someone’s face, then don’t say it online.


One thought on “Danah Boyd on Streams of Content, Limited Attention

  1. James, wasn’t there but read her post. I really feel for her. The possibility of having a Twitterstream behind me is one of the reasons I now turn down conference sessions. I love an audience and love to speak at sessions but to have a Twitterstream behind you is a 100% guarantee of the focus not being on what you say but on whether you’re talking too fast (in my case, most certainly that would be a criticism!), how you look etc. Things can get nasty; I’ve seen it happening and poor Danah was on the receiving end. Kim

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