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The Attention Merchants: How Our Time and Attention are Gathered and Sold Hardcover – 5 Jan 2017

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; Main edition (5 Jan. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1782394826
  • ISBN-13: 978-1782394822
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 3.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 71,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

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 THE SHALLOWS I couldn't put this fascinating book down. Gripping from page one with its insight, vivid writing, and panoramic sweep, [it] 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 A profoundly important book... 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 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, BOING BOING Forget subliminal seduction: every day, we are openly bought and sold, as this provocative book shows. Kirkus [A] startling and sweeping examination of the increasingly ubiquitous commercial effort to capture and commodify our attention New Republic Illuminating New York Review of Books 'Wu is much better than most, partly because he is a sceptic, but mainly because he has narrative flair and an eye for the most telling examples.' The Sunday Times 'Wu writes about the uglier consequences of our great migration to the web with the bruised zeal of an ex-millenarian.' The Times

About the Author

Tim Wu is an author, policy advocate, and professor at Columbia University. He has been variously named as one of the leaders in science and technology, one of Harvard's 100 most influential graduates and America's 100 Most Influential Lawyers, and in 2014 and 2015 he was named to the "Politico 50." He formerly wrote for Slate, winning the Lowell Thomas Gold medal for Travel Journalism, and is a contributing writer for The New Yorker. In 2015, he was appointed to the Executive Staff of the Office of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.


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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Professor Wu, a tech wizard, has written an important and engrossing book. The subject is far from new but this account brings up to date the way in which we are being manipulated by snake oil salesmen of every hue. The most worrying feature is that the majority of people do not know they're being duped daily.

In 28 chapters Wu examines: all the key aspects of advertising trickery. The book is divided into five parts with titles such as won't be fooled again, the third screen, the conquest of time and space, and masters of blazing modernities. He uses examples to illustrate what is going on. For example, the use of advertising into public schools in America.

Wu demonstrates how almost every bit of our lives is commercially exploited as much as possible. We are seldom away from a screen of some kind. Wu explains how this state of affairs has come about. He says it is because of the rise of an industry: the Attention Merchants. It began in the early 19th century in New York. By the early 20th century war propagandists showed how the public could be duped. Harvesting human attention became thereafter a major industry. It is still growing.

What is at stake is not our culture but the very nature of our lives. We are all at risk without fully realising it. The author's main thesis is that from the penny press to social media such as Facebook ever more nasty schemes are being devised to capture our attention. Wu traces the rise of this over the past one hundred years. Some of his examples are decidedly funny. Women he shows tend to be more suggestible than men. Chat shows are used to manipulate us. Politicians employ people to sully our thinking. He examines the Pepsi-cola campaign, a notorious campaign to promote the drink over its rival Coke.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved this book. Extremely accessible and easy to read, it demonstrates over and over again how clever big business is at harvesting our time as well as our money. I devoted several hours from whatever time I have left on this earth to read it and do not begrudge Professor Wu a single second of it.
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Format: Hardcover
Tim Wu's engrossing, alarming book charts the history of how human attention has been exploited for money. According to Wu, a Columbia Law School professor, the process really began in the 1830s, when local newspapers realized that they could inflate their profits by lowering their cover price, thereby driving up circulation, and selling their readers' attention to advertisers. Attention, Wu suggest, had become a commodity, and it has been systematically harvested ever since. Governments soon got in on the act. Britain launched the first mass propaganda campaign in history with its First World War recruitment poster. Hitler, however, soon discredited the whole enterprise of state propaganda; and since the mid 30th-century, the tools of attention grabbing have largely been in private hands. Wu, who writes with narrative flair and an eye for the most telling examples is certainly no admirer of the admen. Though he mostly keeps his skepticism in check, the gloves finally come off in an epilogue that argues advertising has profaned our lives.

The rise of the attention merchants hasn't always been smooth. Occasionally, people revolt, In the 1930s, a consumer movement forced the US government to start policing ads for factual inaccuracies. The remote control, a 1950s invention, was meant to hail a new resistance by giving TV watchers the power to press mute. Yet, as Wu shows, advertising has always adapted to resistance extremely well. It has co-opted any and all countercultures, from hippies to punks, and it has recruited many of its greatest haters into its ranks. Both Google and Facebook, for example, were founded by engineer who despised online ads. And so set about creating better ones.

Wu is especially vexed by our great migration to the web.
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