Over the last decade, it has become evident that the aim of techno-capitalism is to control our capacity for attention. From Google’s Page Rank algorithm to applications such as Instagram or Tinder, our social attention is used as a principle of economic value. The extractive logic of capital has found an excellent resource to plumb for almost unlimited growth. That which we look at, do not look at, listen to or do not listen to; the places where we direct our senses serve the enormous corporations of the Internet in replenishing their vast stores of data and establishing patterns of behaviour.
We live in a state of ‘voluntary servitude’ where, as forecast by Vilem Flusser, we are ‘witnesses, collaborators and victims’ of the mediated forms of social programming. The rise of trumpism, a paradigm of populist global neoliberalism, should be understood as a politics of the commodification of attention.
This collection of essays by various contemporary thinkers invites us to reflect on forms of control and exploitation of attention, but also to search for strategies to develop a politics of attention.