The Good Attention: there is life after social media.
As a tool for knowledge access and exchange, the internet was designed to be an engine of progress. However, with the emergence of social media and content platforms, the distribution and monetization of content became largely controlled by these gatekeepers.
Engagement became the holy grail, leading to an abundance of clickbait, polarizing discourse, and attention-grabbing tactics. As a result, the internet has become a place where there is lots of shouting and less listening.
The idea that each of us deserves a receptive, global audience feeds our human vanity. We join platforms, we feed them with our content and with our eyeballs. TikTok, in particular, is the epitome of the Attention Economy: a black hole of attention that absorbs its viewers - sometimes with rather clever content - but does not give back anything permanent.
Yet, as times change, so too do our priorities. Many individuals are seeking more controlled and focused ways to use their attention, such as subscribing to newsletters or podcasts or connecting through closer networks like Discord.
Creators have also realized that cultivating a loyal, supportive audience of one hundred true fans is often more valuable than amassing a large following of thousands filled with bots and disengaged users.
The emergence of Web 3.0 has brought about a renewed focus on control and ownership, but also presents new opportunities and threats, particularly with conversational media powered by artificial intelligence.
In a time of multiple crises, including the pandemic, war, an unsustainable economic paradigm, and climate emergency, the internet has become a place where we struggle to define its purpose and potential. However, it can still serve as an engine for progress if we put intelligence and responsibility into its design and use.
This newsletter aims to explore responsible ways to produce content, develop media products, and communicate with audiences.
It will cover topics such as media literacy, ethical design, and the use of AI in media. Additionally, it will draw upon thousands of years of storytelling tradition to examine how words and visuals can be used to create valuable content.
As a thesis-driven newsletter, it is guided by the belief that the time has come to take back control of our attention from social media and manipulative platforms. Our attention and time are valuable, and it's time to use the internet to make the most of them."
What can you expect from The Good Attention?
Among others, I will cover topics such as:
The Attention Economy and how we can mitigate its impact on our online behavior.
The responsible use of AI in media, including ethical considerations around data privacy and transparency.
The emergence of Web 3.0 and how it promises to shift power back to users, including a focus on decentralized platforms and the use of blockchain technology.
The impact of social media on mental health and well-being, and strategies for promoting positive online behavior and fostering healthy digital communities.
The ethics of monetizing content online, including discussions on the use of ad revenue and the emerging trend of paid subscriptions.
The role of digital media in promoting social justice, diversity, and equity, and strategies for creating inclusive and diverse content.
The fundamentals of storytelling and how they can be applied to digital media, including exploring ancient storytelling techniques that still resonate today.
Responsible ways to design media outlets, not indulging in manipulative design or dark patterns and covering information architecture from the point of view of information transparency.
How design thinking can be used as a valuable method not only to develop products but also to create valuable, engaging content with a solid value proposition.
The role of digital media in shaping public opinion and political discourse, and strategies for promoting constructive dialogue and critical thinking.
Who is asking for your attention?
Who is the author?
If you were to draw a line connecting the places where I have spent the longest periods of time, you would understand why I consider myself a child of the European East/West border.
My origins are in the Northeast of Italy, an area with a rich and tumultuous history, including the Isonzo Front in World War I, the Nazi occupation zone along the Adriatic coast in World War II, and finally, the Italian border with the Soviet bloc for the first eighteen years of my life.
Just a few kilometers from my home was Gorizia, a city that, like Berlin, was divided and today remains separated into two distinct cities - one Italian and one Slovenian. I have lived and studied in Milan and Vienna, spent some years in Salzburg, and currently live in Berlin.
For the past two decades, I have been developing media products, content, and audiences for various broadcasters, publishers, and brands. Initially, I worked as a product manager but eventually transitioned into content leadership roles that focused on the intersection of publishing and brand building. I led international newsrooms and developed global audiences, took part in developing Red Bull Media House from the ground up, and launched some of the most successful digital media products in Italy.
Before that, I got an MSc in Business Administration (Major in Management of Technology and Innovation) from the Italian Bocconi University and an advanced Degree in International Business at the Wien Universität. I refreshed my business skills both in Madrid, at the IE Business School, and in Denmark, at the IBC. I am a certified Agile Product Owner and a trained Design Thinker at the German Hasso Plattner Institut.
Despite an education centered on numbers and technology, my career has always revolved around words, ideas, and content - sometimes it has been used to sell products and promote brands, but personally, I still prefer to sell ideas rather than products.
In addition to my managerial work, I have always had a passion for creating content on the side. This has included writing blogs, newsletters, op-eds for business media, and providing strategic analysis in my area of expertise: technology and media. If you would like to learn more about me, please visit valentinagiannella.com or my LinkedIn page.