‘Gesture Economy’

In a bombshell post Steve Gillmor instantiates the term ‘gesture economy’ (which Google tells me has another meaning in linguistics) as one of the puzzle pieces in the emerging dialog on Attention. It’ll be interesting to track the uses of the term, and the closely related ‘GestureBank’ which titles Steve’s post. What brought me up short, though, was this bit of clarity, to which I’ve added emphasis here and there:

Of course, nothing is for free, really. Gmail is free, but at the cost of your metadata. Search is free, but at the cost of a tactical answer, not a strategic one. Which result you choose is the payment, setting off an event chain that sometimes results in action and monetization. The metadata–which item you choose, the fork in the road you take–is captured but not shared. The result: an opportunity cost lost to the Google or Yahoo or MSN silo. The cost: time not saved.

Follow the breadcrumbs for a minute. If a gesture is not shared, what is lost? The network effect, for one. GestureRank for another. What? GestureRank–the price the market will bear for harvesting the authority of a particular gesture. Remember: this is a post-attention world we’re living in. Just as the RSS wave triggered an embarassment of riches and triage cost, the Attention wave triggers an authority architecture and corollary characteristics. If PageRank crystallizes link authority, GestureRank crystallizes gestures of intent and, crucially, the lack of intent.

Attention to something is valuable, but in a world of too much information divided by the time to consume a portion of it, signalling a lack of attention is more valuable. By that construct, gestures of inattention will fetch a greater price, and purveyors of gestures of indirection or redirection will gain inordinate value as compared to domain experts…

Plenty in there to chew upon. And then he drops this beauty of an example:

Gestures become inextricably interwoven with so-called content, creating a fabric of intelligence, emotion, and humor that is difficult if not impossible for audiences to resist… Shared laughter efficiently reveals the power of gestures. All around us we hear and generate the sounds of humor–the chuckle of recognition, the cackle of just deserts, the snort of derision mixed with self-knowledge, the humanity of it all. It’s jazz, isn’t it; the improvization we all want to sit in on.