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Dear White Women

Apr 21, 2021

If you’re listening to this episode while scrolling through your phone, we want you to stop and pay attention.  This episode, after all, will be all about attention - how we use it, where we spend it, and why some people are so good at pulling attention towards them, good OR bad.

We want to thank Charlie Warzel at the NY Times for bringing this week’s guest, Michael Goldhaber, to our attention.  After all, how often do you get to connect with a visionary human being who predicted the destructive forces of social media and the fight for people’s attention - all the way back in the 1980s and 1990s (in other words, before social media even existed)?  

Have questions, comments, or concerns?  Email us at

What to listen for:

  • What is the attention economy?
  • The role of positive vs negative attention - and the role that social media now plays in our human need to matter
  • How does the attention economy deepen inequality?
  • Can an attention economy and a democracy coexist?

Want to

NY Times:

Michael Goldhaber from 1997:

About Michael Goldhaber: 

Michael H. Goldhaber, though a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, has spent much of his life looking at the social impacts of technology, the nature of human thought, and related issues. (A.B., Physics, Harvard, 1963, Ph.D., Physics, Stanford, 1968)

In 1968, he cofounded Scientists and Engineers for Social and Political Action, which soon became “Science for the People.” 

In about 1982, working at the Institute for Policy Studies, in Washington, DC, he first realized that what was known at the time as “The Information Revolution” actually amounted to a move into a quite new kind of economy, which he labeled “the Attention Economy.” He has been writing and speaking about that on and off since, continually re-evaluating what it means. Some of his articles about it are to be found on the online journal about the Internet, First Monday. 

He has recently re-activated his blog,  which is mostly on the subject. Recently, Charlie Warzel in The New York Times called him “the Cassandra of the Internet Age” for his predicting the many of the problems caused by the Internet and social media, largely before social media even existed.

In 1986, he published a book Reinventing Technology: Policies for Democratic Values. (Routlege)

He lives in Berkeley, California with his wife, Karen Weinstein, and dog, Charlie. He has also pursued abstract painting, novel writing, gardening, and progressive politics. 

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