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Pay Attention!

Posted by: Rob Hof on November 1, 2005

… if you have time. Which you probably don’t. That’s the point of an insightful post by VC Fred Wilson, who fears that an attention crisis is looming. He already can’t pay attention to the 100-plus RSS feeds he has subscribed to, and he keeps adding more. He also can’t keep up with all the new Web services that, as it happens, often require a lot of participation, not just quick scanning. It’s similar to the frustration I shared some time ago about Web overload. I think this, more than anything else, is why the new crop of Web startups faces an increasingly steep hurdle to jump over.

Fred wonders if filtering sites such as or will help. Maybe. And there are other folks, such as the Attention Trust gang, who are valiantly trying to give us more control of the value that many companies are extracting from the electronic traces of our Web travels—so at least we’ll get more in return for that attention. But I tend to agree with Fred’s glum conclusion: We’re going to be overloaded for a long time to come. I’d ask someone to suggest a new Web service to help me filter my information better, but I probably wouldn’t have time to try it.

OK, I can’t end on such a flip note. There is an answer, even if it’s painful, notes one of the commenters on Fred’s post, Keith Bohanna: “The problem is not too much information or insufficently advanced tools - it is lack of self control and focus.” In other words, grow up. It’s your life, so be ruthless about taking control of the limited time you have left.

Reader Comments


November 1, 2005 6:29 PM

So like the digitized version of "so many men, so little time"?

Rob Hof

November 1, 2005 6:54 PM

You got it, Mae. Er, I mean, dg.


November 2, 2005 4:43 PM

May I also recommend that you consider adding to the aforementioned list of link aggregator sites? We're also trying to filter out all the noise of the web and give users the things they want to be paying attention to.

Now, as for our limited attentions in the midst of this web overload, there's always the possibility of outsourcing all the tedious parts of one's life...

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