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The Internet Trap$
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Matthew Hindman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691159263

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691159263.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 24 February 2020

Rethinking the Attention Economy

Rethinking the Attention Economy

(p.1) 1 Rethinking the Attention Economy
The Internet Trap

Matthew Hindman

Princeton University Press

This chapter argues that digital survival depends on “stickiness”—firms' ability to attract users, to get them to stay longer, and to make them return again and again. Stickiness is like a constantly compounding Internet interest rate, in which a small early edge in growth creates a huge long-term gap. The chapter also argues that building a better version of attention economics starts with a key problem: our understanding of the Internet has been lopsided. The forces that disperse digital attention are widely understood, while the forces of concentration are not. The chapter shows that the models of the attention economy that this book proposes are quite general, with much of its evidence coming from the commercial sphere of the Web and digital media—where the dynamics of the attention economy are particularly stark, and where the online dynamics are not so different from familiar offline patterns. But one of the biggest contributions of these models is illuminating areas of the Web that go beyond purely commercial content.

Keywords:   attention economics, stickiness, Internet, digital attention, digital media, attention economy, online dynamics

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