Writer. Warning: opinions. My lawyer advised a disclaimer, but didn't include any jokes to go with. Damned if I can think of any either.

Attention is the New Currency

I spent a moment today looking at a little iPhone application called Word Lens. It recognizes text in the visual input from the phone’s camera, then translates that text on the fly, so the image you see on the display is written in the translated language. It’s the coolest application I have seen for iPhone so far, and it’s got me thinking about… the future!

Here’s the Word Lens intro video:

Clunky-ness de-clunked
I look at that video, and I think to myself, okay, here’s a thing that changes your visual experience on the fly. Surely this is indicative of a trend, as computers get faster and displays get bigger. It seems like I have read before that reality will eventually be “augmented”, but the demonstrations I’ve seen of such, until now, seemed kind of clunky. Word Lens looks incredible, though, and it makes me think that reality might finally get augmented in a non-clunky way.

I don’t want to have to put on a big dumb helmet or dorky goggles just to experience a media event. I’m looking at you, 3D movies and TV — oh wait, no I’m not! People need to see this face and this hairdo, guys.

Jet Packs and Flying Cars: Still Clunky
I’ve resigned myself to a world without flying cars or jetpacks, for now, because no one’s made them non-clunky yet. Jetpacks don’t work long enough, and flying cars are either okay as planes or okay as cars but not both. Augmented reality, on the other hand, looks like it might get here before I get too old to see.

Attention is the New Currency
But here’s what I’m thinking: If everyone can choose what they experience at all times, then that means that attention is the new currency. In the old media days, content providers didn’t really have to compete for attention that much because there were fewer choices. I think we’re going to see more and more choices coupled with easier and easier forms of delivery in… the future.

Attention being the new currency is exciting because it means there’s never been a better time to be a person who produces content, but it also means that advertisers and marketers are going to find more and more annoying ways to get my attention, and I’m already over things like pre-roll ads and lightbox-style popups.

As long as there is “it” to be done, however, there will be those who are doing it right and those who are doing it wrong. I’ll just use my sweet augmented reality contact lenses to filter the crap out in… THE FUTURE!