On the Web, there are two main kinds of companies: marketplaces and attention economies. Marketplaces operate by connecting one group of people to another group of people and allowing them to conduct a transaction, of which they take a cut. Etsy connects buyers to sellers; Kickstarter connects creators to backers; Airbnb connects travelers to hosts; OkCupid connects daters to daters. Marketplace companies build tools to solve problems that exist in the world. At their best, they operate like healers — mixing up medicine to answer a need. Attention economies operate by convincing users to spend large amounts of time online, clicking many things, and viewing many ads. These companies often masquerade as “communication tools” that help people “connect”. But in attention economies, most of the “connecting” happens alone, while you’re staring at a screen, and it often leaves you feeling empty. Attention economy companies operate less like healers and more like dealers — creating addictive experiences to keep people hooked.
The Farmer & Farmer Review . Modern Medicine . Healers & Dealers (via dontoverthink)
It doesn’t have to be that way. The same way someone you meet in the street isn’t necessarily trying to rip you off or bore you to death. Sometimes that happens, but it doesn’t have to be that way.