In exchange for something we want, we will agree to look at a certain quantity of advertising.
This is understood as a form of exchange – you give me free email, I get adverts down the side of the page. There are many examples of this.
But what are we exchanging? Our attention? The use of some part of our brain, connected to the visual cortex? Whatever it is, advertisers hope that it is more or less directly connected to an impulse to follow the advert, eventually allowing someone to connect to our bank accounts.
Many people don’t click through or, if asked, wouldn’t say that they even look at the adverts. However, they are still there, pulling on your attention, at the edge of your vision.
There’s a big question here:
Is the source of this attention finite or infinite? If infinite, then we are getting a good exchange. But, if it is finite, or somehow degradable, we may not realise the consequences of such transactions – until it is too late…
[cue ominous roll of thunder and flash of lightning, briefly illuminating your fear-filled face]