What’s information really about?

What’s information really about? It seems to me there’s something direly wrong with the “Information Economy.” It’s not about data, it’s about attention. In a few years you may be able to carry the Library of Congress around in your hip pocket. So? You’re never gonna read the Library of Congress. You’ll die long before you access one tenth of one percent of it.

What’s important — increasingly important — is the process by which you figure out what to look at. This is the beginning of the real and true economics of information. Not who owns the books, who prints the books, who has the holdings. The crux here is access, not holdings. And not even access itself, but the signposts that tell you what to access — what to pay attention to. In the Information Economy everything is plentiful — except attention.

Bruce Sterling’s 1992 speech to the Library Information Technology Association

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