Attention economics is an approach to the management of information that treats human attention as a scarce commodity, and applies economic theory to solve various information management problems.
In this perspective Thomas H. Davenport and J. C. Beck define the concept of attention as:
Attention is focused mental engagement on a particular item of information. Items come into our awareness, we attend to a particular item, and then we decide whether to act.(Davenport & Beck 2001, p. 20)
As content has grown increasingly abundant and immediately available, attention becomes the limiting factor in the consumption of information. Attention economics applies insights from other areas of economic theory to enable content consumers, producers, and intermediaries to better mediate and manage the flow of information in light of the scarcity of consumer attention.
A number of software and web-applications either explicitly or implicitly take attention economy into consideration in their design, based on the realization that if it takes the user too long to locate something, they will find it through another application. This is done, for instance, by creating filters to make sure the first content a viewer sees is relevant, of interest, or with the approval of demographics.