Tim Wu on attention hacking

We are hacked - at least our attention, says Tim Wu, university professor and bestselling author. In a video interview with the GDI, Wu discusses why attention hacking is booming in online commerce, how it is changing us, but why we don't have to be pessimistic.

Influencing people's choices is easy. All it takes is redirecting their attention, says Tim Wu, professor at Columbia University and author of the bestseller "The Attention Merchants". He calls this growing technique "Attention Hacking", which can be used to manipulate the individual decision-making process. Facebook or Google ads are probably the most prominent examples of it: when reading an online article, for example, sneakers that you almost bought on Zalando a few hours ago pop up - you're already shopping instead of reading without knowing exactly how it happened.

According to Wu, attention hacking has become an important part of the economy. “We are all a little bit addicted to technology. We’re often just spending hours on time on things we don’t know why we’re spending time on them and I think that’s not the kind of life I want to live,” the researcher says. He describes his more optimistic future scenario in a video interview with the GDI: