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The Attention Merchants Audiobook

The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads

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Publisher's Summary

From Tim Wu, author of the award-winning The Master Switch and who coined the phrase "net neutrality", a revelatory look at the rise of "attention harvesting", and its transformative effect on our society and our selves.

Attention merchant: an industrial-scale harvester of human attention. A firm whose business model is the mass capture of attention for resale to advertisers.

In nearly every moment of our waking lives, we face a barrage of advertising enticements, branding efforts, sponsored social media, commercials and other efforts to harvest our attention. Over the last century, few times or spaces have remained uncultivated by the "attention merchants", contributing to the distracted, unfocused tenor of our times. Tim Wu argues that this is not simply the byproduct of recent inventions but the end result of more than a century's growth and expansion in the industries that feed on human attention. From the pre-Madison Avenue birth of advertising to TV's golden age to our present age of radically individualized choices, the business model of "attention merchants" has always been the same. He describes the revolts that have risen against these relentless attempts to influence our consumption, from the remote control to FDA regulations to Apple's ad-blocking OS. But he makes clear that attention merchants grow ever-new heads, and their means of harvesting our attention have given rise to the defining industries of our time, changing our nature - cognitive, social, and otherwise - in ways unimaginable even a generation ago.

©2016 Tim Wu (P)2016 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"Tim Wu has written a profoundly important book on a problem that doesn't get enough - well, attention. Attention itself has become the currency of the information age, and, as Wu meticulously and eloquently demonstrates, we allow it to be bought and sold at our peril." (James Gleick, author of Time Travel: A History)

"I couldn't put this fascinating book down. Gripping from page one with its insight, vivid writing, and panoramic sweep, The Attention Merchants is also a book of urgent importance, revealing how our preeminent industries work to fleece our consciousness rather than help us cultivate it." (Amy Chua, Yale law professor and author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and The Triple Package)

"Television entranced the masses. Digital media, more insidiously, mesmerizes each of us individually. In this revelatory book, Tim Wu tells the story of how advertisers and programmers came to seize control of our eyes and minds. The Attention Merchants deserves everyone's attention." (Nicholas Carr, author of Utopia Is Creepy and The Shallows)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Scott 10-24-16
    Scott 10-24-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "It's Been Sold"

    Ever wonder why you have so little attention for the important things in life?

    Your attention is being sold; it's been sold incrementally over the years.

    Marc Cashman beautifully narrates fifteen hours of a 'brief' history of tactics and trends in advertising.

    This is great book for you if you're interested in gaining control of your attention, find out where it's gone, who has taken it, and how they stole it from you. The why is money, but not for as much as you would think.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marjohn Love Rockport, MA 10-26-16
    Marjohn Love Rockport, MA 10-26-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Thought provoking"

    When I purchased this audio book I had hoped the author would elucidate what is going on with the rampant pillaging of personal private information. I fear nefarious use of such data. I was not expecting the author's deep, thoughtful historical analysis of the issues around advertising. Where he went, he went carefully and fearlessly.
    I am not clear if cloud storage of data existed at the time of his writing. The level of cohersion to force individuals to use such data storage services is something I find dangerous and personally appalling.
    I am an author and TV show host. Without my consent all my shows and the still photos I use to enrich the studio footage were uploaded to the cloud. I was then informed I had to pay monthly rent for the undesired storage or have the episodes removed from my home computer. Much data was mysteriously deleted from not only the mainframe but also my backup drive.
    I rebelled and was able to reclaim my ownership of my own intellectual property, at least for a short while. Lately I faced a more subtle upload requirement of unpublished text and perfectly functioning portable storage drives are now malfunctioning. I heard the term ransomware. I would love to hear this author's opinions about that and it's impact on intellectual expression and ultimately freedom of speech. If someone you do not know can delete your thoughts and words at will, how safe are you as a creative?

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Neil Dennis 11-21-16
    Neil Dennis 11-21-16

    thomas n dennis

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    "Tim Wu's "The Attention Merchants""

    Anyone who has watched an advertisement without feeling the ruse should read Wu's remarkable history.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    NMwritergal 10-22-16
    NMwritergal 10-22-16
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    "A comprehensive history of the adverstising biz..."

    ...and its effect on us.

    The author starts at the very beginning of advertising and comes right up to the present. I found it all interesting, though I could see some people (interested in history) being more interested in the past and some people being more interested in the present (what advertising and technology is doing to us now--more in the vein of "current events.").

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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