Towards an attention economy of CI

“I didn’t adequately address ‘…the bipolarity opposition between the Net and the Self.’  Note to self, need another framework to explain how self-serving utility pursuits result in emergent value.  Note to Net, feel free to chime in.” from
Ross Mayfield’s Weblog
Ross, I don’t have a framework but am happy to contribute to its emergence through the dialogue that your reply to Tim’ Oren’s comments on Ecosystem of Networks, I hope will trigger in blogosphere and beyond.
I think you’re at the heart of attention economics’ core issues, and your conversation with Tim has the potential to build momentum for an “attention economy” framework to “explain how self-serving utility pursuits result in emergent value.” Here’s my 2 cents to it.
My favorite self-serving pursuits is to learn getting smarter about the increasingly complex range of possibilities I/we have for creating value. The complexity of match between opportunities and capabilities ti meet them is fueled by the concurrent differentiation of both. In this context, increasing my evolutionary fitness to benefit from our collective evolutionary fitness–or collective intelligence (CI)–seems a good personal strategy for maximizing utility.


The problem is, as you wrote, “Only so many active working relationships, social transactions one can take part in and things to subscribe to.   Recognize this scarcity underpins an economy of attention and participation energy.”
My linear time IS a zero sum game but that’s not only a limitation, it’s also the “fact-of-life” background on which I see 3 dimensions of inter-related bootstrapping innovation co-arising and transcending that linearity. Each of them has large potential for generating emergent value. The sweet spot of “designing for emergence” is in their confluence.
• Technological innovations resulting in better social tools and tools for increasing my personal bandwidth
The first includes tools for rich profiling, swift-trust building, and multi-dimensional mapping of emergent socio-cognitive spaces. They will come out from more in-depth, co-creative dialogues between toolmakers and practitioners, as Nancy White suggested somewhere in the conversation about the Social Software Association.
Tools for increasing personal bandwidth will be a result of co-creative dialogues, and blurring the boundaries, between makers and users of tools for personal knowledge gardening and attention gardening. (I wouldn’t say “attention management,” it’s just too Madison Avenue. There’s a slide illustrating my sense of differentiating the linear and ecosystemic perspective on what we can do with our attention, here.)
• Socio-economic innovations resulting in more transparency, faster and wider trust flows which reduce transactional cost
Self-organizing “communities of practice” and “communities of purpose” are emergent centers of value-creation situated in the sphere of creative networks (within the “Ecosystem of Networks” theory). They may re-define the social relations of intellectual production, including the relationship between managerial hierarchies and communities.
Tim Oren wrote, “it’s the people that are the scale determining factor, and it’s no accident at all that the local utility maxima for group size are about those of a tribe, and family or working group.” It’s true but given that most of us are members in multiple communities, the limit to augment CI–and the value it can give us back–is not in group size but the processing power of the smart routers which are us. (Somebody wrote about the “human routers” metaphor, in a blog, a few days ago. It has its limitations, but strengths too.) That leads us to next dimension, which is personal attention-augmenting practices.
• Learning innovations resulting in significantly enhanced attention qualities
Attention qualities, such as depth, scope, and span, can be enhanced through intentional practices such as meditation, non-judgmental self-observation and other forms of self-reflective learning. Neither of them is new or innovative per se, but what is innovative about them is the context in which they appear, the first time in history. In front of our eyes, humankind’s collective intellect has just become its most powerful force of production. Attention qualities differentiate the capacity of people and organizations to engage with it, and those qualities grow in influence on their l/earning power.
So, what all this has to do with “self-serving utility pursuits resulting in emergent value”? Well, if I’m not alone in my pursuit of getting smarter about navigating the ecosystem of possibilities for value-creation, then the double helix of individual /collective co-evolution will kick in and create emergent value.
Ross, Tim, and Stowe, if this collaborative inquiry becomes a focus of interest to more people, it may also become an illustration of the main point od this entry. We all pursue some “self-serving” need or aspiration when writing bur by gifting the commons with it, we can hopefully foster the emergence of the framework Ross asked for. Now, wouldn’t that be a neat “emergent value?” Creating it could nudged by a collaborative thought experiment to discover and push the edge of how distributed cognition may be used for value creation. If that idea makes curious at least two people besides me, I will offer the first draft for a simple design of an experiment like that,

This entry was posted in Collective Intellect Augments Individual, Towards an attention economy of CI. Bookmark the permalink.

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