Attention Merchants by Tim Wu

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Key Impression

  • The interview might have been a bit unfair to google. Tim Wu mentioned Google many times in a negative light. Although he did acknowledge that Google drew a line separating organic search results from ads, I don’t recall him saying anything that put this into perspective in the context of other competitors. คือเขาไม่ได้พูดว่ากูเกิ้ลน่ะ อาจจะเลวน้อยกว่าคนอื่นแล้วนะ
  • Apple was not mentioned. Neither was Amazon. Notable omissions. Something to find out in the book.
  • The history of ads, starting off as a scare tactic (making people feel bad about themselves), is very interesting.
  • The concept of AOL’s walled garden sounds like Scholarpedia. It failed. Why?

Summary (partial)

  1. Tim Wu coined the phrase Net Neutrality
    1. FCC upheld it.
    2. It was appealed. FCC won. Supreme Court probably won’t take the case (Wu said).
  2. Tim Wu focused on the past 5 years, saying the web has gotten worse, not better.
  3. Casino effect: when you turn on a compute to do a specific task. Then you wander for 4 hours without getting anything done. Attention hijacked.
  4. He kept saying we needed to find a new business model to replace ads model. He didn’t make a good case for any model.
    1. Contribution model (wikipedia, NPR)
    2. Users pay for content.
  5. Is there a cure? He didn’t mention it except for finding a new business model.
  6. Parallel with essay by Henry Kissinger.


  1. Fresh Air podcast. How Free Web Content Traps People In An Abyss Of Ads And Clickbait
    October 17, 2016
  2. The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads
    by Tim Wu