Author: Tim Wu
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Review By: Shana
A well-done book that largely acts as a detailed history of advertising and how advertising has been amplified and exacerbated by the various screens in our lives (from the first screen, film, through subsequent screens of television, computers, and finally mobile devices). Wu briefly touches upon other, older forms of attempting to harness attention (religion and governmental propaganda being prime examples), but the bulk of the book is a catalog of the ever-evolving commercial efforts to wrest our limited attention from us in a ploy to sell goods.
Though the historical aspects are ably explained, I think the book could have been better and more illuminating if Wu had spent some additional time explaining the science of attention, why we are swayed, and the cognitive reasons why the ubiquity of mobile devices is so devastating. That said, the book covers its topic thoroughly and is engaging, if for no other reason than its topic permeates our modern lives.
The book is at its best and most interesting as it heads into the 21st Century, tackling social media and the like, the way that social media makes us each a narcissus, and how the minute details that can now be tracked make attention harvesting easier and our need for escape from such harvesting all the more urgent. In the wake of recent events (e.g., Cambridge Analytica and Facebook), the book is worth the time for those interested to learn a bit about how the most valuable commodity up for grabs is our combined attention.
My love of reading was sparked in 3rd grade by the promise of personal pan pizzas via the BOOK IT! Program. Hmmmm... any chance that someone might give adults free food for reading? Asking for a friend...