In the talk that I gave at Manipal University, I emphasized the significance of audiences in today’s economy. Here is a piece that highlights what appears to be a counter-trend. Yet for much of that time, the business side of culture looked under assault. The internet taught a whole generation that content was not something you really had to pay for. So for years, digital content companies — especially those in the online news business — looked doomed to pursue a scale-only, ad-based business model.
I’ve been invited to deliver the chief guest’s address at International Conference on “India’s Communication Policy and Strategy,” at Manipal University, Karnataka, India, March 17-18, 2017. The topic I picked is “Communication policy in the age of Facebook.” Here is what I think is the key para: Though difficult, it is possible to develop a comprehensive, modern policy for the communication space through diligent consultation and the involvement of multiple agencies of government. But it would suffer from a fundamental instability. This is because the media (broadly defined) are no longer just a segment of the economy.
The attention economy requires that major investments be made to acquire the attention base and then to monetize it. Although the attention economy has been around at least since 1830, people are still not used to the model. They may be right about the business model – in which case Twitter becomes a perfect case study in the economics of information goods. The key to success in cyberspace is to harness the power of Metcalfe’s Law, which says that the value of a network is proportional to the square of the number of its users. In layman’s terms this means that the faster you can acquire users the quicker you reach the point of becoming the winner who takes all.