The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of Information

Richard A. Lanham, Author
Richard A. Lanham, Author University of Chicago Press $29 (312p) ISBN 978-0-226-46882-2
Reviewed on: 04/03/2006
Release date: 04/01/2006
Paperback - 312 pages - 978-0-226-46867-9
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It took 2,000 years for punctuation and spaces between words to enter written language, so can the continued evolution of how information is packaged, filtered and consumed be doubted? In this exploration of the changing economics of our information-based world, Lanham, professor emeritus of English at UCLA and author of The Electronic Word, proposes the problem with the information economy is ""information doesn't seem in short supply. Precisely the opposite. We're drowning in it."" Lanham posits that as society moves from a world defined by ""stuff"" to one defined by ""fluff,"" people are increasingly in need of filters to weed through the information glut. Enter the arts and letters. Citing sources from the art world to Madison Avenue, Lanham delves into the increasing amount of importance placed on a product's packaging rather than the product itself. Lanham's points are strong and well-researched, as shown through his ""background conversations,"" substitutes for endnotes included at the end of every chapter. If style is going to increasingly operate as the decision-making arbiter, Lanham should be commended on his: clear, jargon-free and forward-thinking.
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