Attention Economy: Driver Behind Twitter's Acquisition of Video Firm Vine?

Remember the political rebuff “it’s the economy, stupid!” first coined by James Carville as a campaign strategy for Bill Clinton to use in his successful 1992 presidential campaign against incumbent president George H.W. Bush. Well, it's probably more applicable today then it was then, as evidenced by the vitriol spewing all over the current contentious presidential election campaigns.

While we are all wringing our hands trying to survive the financial ills that have blanketed our land, there is another economy sapping up just as much of our energy as the monetary one. By definition, economics is the study of how a society uses its scarce resources. And information is no longer scarce. To the contrary…it is not only abundant - moreso, its cup is forever running over. The Internet and social media took care of that!

Michael GoldHaberMichael GoldHaberThe term "Attention Economy" was first prophesied by Michael Goldhaber, who wrote an insightful, prescient piece in December 1997 in which he described a new paradigm that pertained to the “flow of attention” metaphorically replacing money as the currency of the Internet. Subsequently a book under the same name has since been written by Thomas H. Davenport and John C. Beck, basing some of their findings on Goldhaber's original premise.

So how does the attention economy figure into Twitter's latest acquisition, or as some have termed it, an "acqhire," since the 3-member staff will end up working for Twitter? While nothing has been announced officially by Twitter, it is now known that Twitter has purchased Vine, a video-sharing start-up in advance of them launching as a stand-alone. This gives credence to the belief that the microblogging operation has decided to effectively stop depending on third-party video services such as yFrog, Viddy, Keek, Tout and TwitVid.

Vine was selected over its competition IMHO because of the attention economy. It has distinguished itself from the pack by its focus on brevity. Similar to Twitter's requirement of distilling blog entries in the form of tweets down to 140 characters or less, Vine allows for punctuated recordings. As users video-tape from their mobile devices, Vine auto-generates a cut-stitched series of these shots into a montage. It's a novel means of hitting today's sweet spot - our ever-dwindling attention spans. In essence, it economizes our time into discernible, easy to digest bites that can readily be shared with one's followers.

Still speculative as to what direction Twitter will take with Vine, in reviewing Vine’s site, you’ll notice the service has yet to be launched and is simply taking user signups. But the splash page currently describes it as, “the best way to capture and share video on your iPhone. No editing. No rendering. No post-production. Video has never been this fun."

Addressing the concern that video on mobile devices has become data-space hogs - at the end of the day, I believe Twitter is trying to find the video equivalent of its 140-character messaging—short bursts of broadcasts that won't clog up wireless networks or mobile users' attention spans. Twitter once again is ahead of the pack in leading our attention economy.

Well, if you’ve made it to the end of this article, I give you props for providing me your undivided attention. Now if I can impose on you for comments and feedback, I promise I will give it my utmost attention as well. Also I welcome you to follow me on Twitter, where I run a little fiefdom of presently 65,000+ followers, who are all a very attentive lot!



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Oct 18, 2012
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Oct 21, 2012
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Nov 6, 2012
by Anonymous

Excellent article. Great learning value.

Hi Ron,
Agree with the "Attention Economy" premise. Very true, "attention" is the new currency. Twitter's success is largely due to its brevity. Visual/ Video social media is the way forward. (Loved your cartoon :) Great piece. Thanks for a fantastic article. Cheers, Amar