Tim Wu

discusses

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

This event includes a book signing

Date

Oct
25
Tuesday
October 25, 2016
6:30 PM
(Doors at 6:00)

Location

WorkBar Cambridge
45 Prospect St., Cambridge, MA 02139

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes Columbia University professor TIM WU—author of The Master Switch and known for coining the term "net neutrality"—for a discussion of his latest book, The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads.

About The Attention Merchants

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.

Praise

"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

"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

"The question of how to get people to care about something important to you is central to religion, government, commerce, and the arts. For more than a century, America has experimented with buying and selling this attention, and Wu’s history of that experiment is nothing less than a history of the human condition and its discontents." —Cory Doctorow

Tim Wu
Tim Wu

Tim Wu

Tim Wu is the author of The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age. He is a policy advocate, a professor at Columbia Law School and an opinion writer for The New York Times. He is best known for coining the phrase "net neutrality." He has served as a Senior Advisor to the Federal Trade Commission; was a senior enforcement counsel and special advisor at the New York Office of the Attorney General; and was a member of President Obama's National Economic Council, where he worked on competition policy. His previous books are The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires and The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside our Heads.

WorkBar Cambridge
45 Prospect St., Cambridge, MA 02139

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