GOLDHABER: If you’re watching television you can flip the channels, but that isn’t something that someone’s doing to you. Before Tivo, when there was a program on at 9:00 at night, everybody had to watch it. Huge numbers of people structured their time that way. That doesn’t quite happen now. I think in some ways we’re freer, but at the same time there are different constraints.
GOLDSTEIN: Can you talk about delegation of attention choices? If it’s the case that we’re confronted with more choices and there are more bids on our attention, can you separate the agency from the principal? This is what an assistant does. An assistant filters requests on your time and allows you to focus. You establish your priorities: "here’s what I want to be interrupted for, here’s what I don’t" and you delegate the authority of brokering attention requests. Ideally, this creates a sense of calm, since you remove yourself from the constant stimulation of unanticipated requests on your attention. Does this create a new kind of wealth, for those people who can afford to delegate?
GOLDHABER: We all trust certain editors, for example, in the newspaper or on television. But that’s something the Internet does not yet do, or perhaps right now doesn’t do very well where you’re left with this constant set of infinite responses to some statement. And all these people come in with their comments that you don’t really want to read. That’s a good example of something that’s unfiltered. I love to read the letters to the New York Times. I’m sure I wouldn’t like to read every letter that was sent. So there is that editing role. It is very important…
GOLDSTEIN: But what about in an economic context: what is the role of the filter, the role of the agent? What’s the right model for compensation?
GOLDHABER: Well, in effect, the editor becomes a star of their own sort in a way.
GOLDSTEIN: But in economic terms, is it a broker?
GOLDHABER: I don’t know if I can make this distinction. In some way it’s a director. But in a way, I don’t know the name of the editor of the Times page, but I know that they do a pretty good job of choosing the letters that are interesting. In a way, that person is the master of ceremonies of the page as much as Ed Sullivan or someone like that.
GOLDSTEIN: What was his economic status?
GOLDHABER: Well, because he was the star, he was known for his nondescript personality, his total blah-ness. But he was also the person who, at least apparently, chose the acts.
GOLDSTEIN: He curated. He filtered. He promoted.
GOLDHABER: Right. And so even though we didn’t necessarily think that much of him as a person, although everybody could imitate him at a certain point and…
GOLDSTEIN: We trusted him with our attention because we felt he would use it wisely.
GOLDHABER: That’s right.
(thread 10 of conversation with between seth goldstein and michael goldhaber after oreilly's attention economy conference, in march of 2006 in oakland)