May 24, 2004 19:36 | Culture / Political / Social / WebBlogging

An economy of caring

Friend Jim Moore is doing all he can to garner attention, raise awareness and just get people to care about a situation of genocide and other nastyness happening in Sudan at the moment.

Much of his efforts are focused on getting the blogosphere to CARE and visit and link to and subscribe to Sudan: The Passion Of The Present Blog.

Jim wrote me a few days ago to say hi, and also to see if I had any thoughts on helping getting the word out. I was immediately reminded of two things: a conversation between Jim and Joi that I was privileged enough to sit in on in which they discussed how hard it seems to be to get people to care about things outside of their own immediate spheres, and the concept of "The Attention Economy".

The information is all there, available to any one of us. The "Attention Economy" is, loosely, about getting enough attention to the information that matters or is of value. Weblogs seem to do this quite well. But there is another threshold: caring. Once one's attention is grabbed, for example the news of genocide somewhere in the world, there is a gap between intellectually "getting it" and viscerally "feeling it".

I think, in the information overflow of today, we've definitely turned on some sort of desensitization mechanism. A major part of that mechanism is a belief, and therefore actualization, of helplessness. "Yeah but what can I possibly do?"

Weblogging's power of growing attention is definitely one, albeit small perhaps, "thing I can do", which creates a sense of caring in the individual. And when many people exchange, share, spread that caring, we create an "Economy of Caring".

Enough caring always results in some kind of action. Call it emotional payoff.