asked me to submit a comment in response to the question "

What is Contemporary Art in South Africa worth?" for their newsletter. Not having the foggiest idea of how to even begin answering this, the first thing I did was ask my Twitter network, and

Uno De Waal

shot right back with the answer: "

Your 2c

". I loved that. But my response needed to be 300 words, so I came up with this longer version. I'm not very art savvy, though I'm getting into it, so I'd like to know what you think:

For the Love of God - Damien Hirst

Our society is increasingly distracted and our attention is fragmented. Everything is information - from the colours of cars, the adverts all around us, shows on television, and the textbooks we never read. If Attention is the Amount of Information we can process in a moment, then Contemporary Art is an incredibly efficient way for us to invest our Attention. This idea of an Economy of Attention helps explain the value of Contemporary Art for me.

The basic idea with Attention Economics is that Information consumes Attention. It might sound inconsequential until you consider the overwhelming amount of information we're exposed to every day.

As consumers of Information, we have to make choices about where to invest the relatively scarce Attention that we have. Our choices are generally informed by where we think we'll get the most reward for our investment of our Attention - where we'll get the most information, experience, or insight for our time.  Those who are able to attract us can create value simply by lending their Reputation to anything we can engage with.

You can see this in effect with artists, like

Damien Hirst

, who are able to make a decent living off the Attention they get for their creations. The value is not in the objects they create, but the Attention and Reputation they are vested with. In Hirst's case at least, Reputation is as good as the

Philospher's Stone

. As

P.T. Barnum

, one of the world's first show-biz millionaires, once said: "No publicity is bad publicity".

Since I'm a Marketer, and Marketer's love lists with P's, I use

Biddington's 3 P's

to assess the enduring value of contemporary art:




, and



For me, the value of great Contemporary Art is its ability to invest a creation with the experiences, insights, and reputation and information, not only of the artist, but of everyone who participates in the work - whether by creating, viewing, critiquing or buying it. The more we discuss it, the more Attention we give it,  the more valuable it becomes.

AuthorDave Duarte
CategoriesArt, Attention
11 CommentsPost a comment
I love using diagrams to help explain concepts which would otherwise be difficult to remember. They make it easier for some people to call up in their minds and immediately recall complex concepts.

I thought of the following model a few weeks ago to describe how value is realized in today's fast-paced, largely unpredictable markets. I've entitled it "Value Creation in a Wild Wired World". Please let me know what you think...

Industrial Age Value Creation:

Industrial Age Innovation

This V model of Value creation is suited to stable, predictable markets and industries.The consumer doesn't have many alternative choices of products and services to fulfill their needs here. The company needs to recoup their significant investment of cash, time and labour by charging as much as possible, and keeping the product as is for as long as possible - taking it from being a Star product to a Cash Cow eventually. Microsofts OS is a good example of this, but they're slowly shifting to the model below...

Rapid Prototyping, Perpetual Beta

An alternative model, more suited to fast changing, unpredictable, hyper-competitive markets looks more this:

Value Creation in a Wild Wired World

The idea here is to launch with a "good enough" prototype, attract early adopter users, and develop the product according to their needs and feedback. In the software development world, this is known as "Beta" - where the product is in testing mode, and constantly improving according to how people are using it. There is generally less upfront investment required in this model, which is important since many products launched into unpredictable, competitive markets will fail unless they adapt in ways that weren't originally envisaged by the product team. Often times the best ideas here arise to serve an unmet need of the founder - you might hear the founder saying the product was launched to "scratch my own itch" The other motto of firms that operate with this model is: "release early, release often". Google does this well.

Your feedback

What do you think about these models? Do they make sense? Is there anything you'd label differently, add to, or remove from the diagrams?
Kelele Africa

Kelele, an annual African bloggers’ conference, was announced yesterday at BarCamp Africa at the GooglePlex in San Francisco. This exciting event will be held in a different African city each year and run by an organising committee in that city. Kelele will be held for the first time in August 2009 in Nairobi, Kenya.

Daudi Were is producing the event, along with an organizing committee of bloggers from all over Africa. This includes Ndesanjo Macha, Erik Hersman, Nii Simmonds, Mshairi, Sami Ben Gharbia, and me.

Why Kelele?

Kelele is the Kiswahili word for noise. We are organising a gathering of African bloggers in the tradition of historical African societies where everyone has a voice.

The specific theme of Kelele ’09 Nairobi is Beat Your Drum – which connects the traditional Africa method of getting your message across vast distances – the talking drums – to the 21st century and the tools we use today, blogs and the Internet.


We are working to make Kelele a world-class conference, but in order to do this we will need Sponsorship to cover costs such as delegate's flights, venue, AV and bandwidth.

We’d like to invite all organizations with an interest in blogging, Africa and citizen media to become a sponsor of the inaugural African Bloggers Conference: Kelele!

There are a variety of ways that you can become involved as a sponsor for Kelele - your contribution doesn’t only need to be financial in nature. If you’d like to find out more about the sponsorship opportunities, please email
AuthorDave Duarte
12 CommentsPost a comment
Some of the regular visitors to this blog may have noticed that I have posted progressively less over the last 6 months. Recently my posting has almost come to a standstill. There's a lot behind this, which I've been trying to make sense of.

In short, it comes down to a sense of frustration I'm having with the amount of information I seem to have to deal with before anything actually gets done. As an example, besides spam, I get around 80 emails a day, all of which seem to require an urgent response. This is not good for someone who spends most of his time out the office working with groups. It basically means that most of my time in the office is split between dealing with email, and reading news so I can stay in touch with industry trends and innovations. This leaves very little time to spend working with my colleagues (at Huddlemind, Creative Commons and Muti) on important stuff like strategy. All this information feels like it's paralysing me!

In fact, this sense has sat with me for a while, and it's the primary reason why I've been so drawn to the study and practice of "Attention Economics".

So, regarding my blog...

Someone Has Already Said It

Perhaps the main reason I haven't been posting is because, quite honestly, everything I can think of saying has already been said by someone else online. And its not often that I have felt I could say it better.

For those who are interested in what I recommend reading, or what I find interesting, I would like to introduce you to my Diigo links which you can see in the sidebar on the right. There are some superb finds there, and they're all sorted by topic/tag.

I feel so full up with other people's information that there's barely enough space for me to form my own insights and share them.

Experiences vs Information

Maya Angelou once said: "People will forget what you tell them, but will never forget how you make them feel".

For people, like me, who believe that our Attention is increasingly scarce and valuable today, there is a cost attached to each new piece of information that we consume. Information consumes Attention. Despite my knowledge and understanding of "Attention Economics", I've been spendthrift with my own Attention. Now I have a bit of a deficit to deal with - each waking moment is currently spent processing the information I've amassed, at the expense of the experiences and interactions I could be having.

Information, by the way, is inherent in everything. It's just that we have come to prioritize encoded information - in the form of writing, sounds, and video - over real-world, information - in the form of experiences.

Reading and Writing

When I first started blogging, I enjoyed the sense of personal discovery through public disclosure. However, at some point the blogging became more about building an audience than about sharing ideas.

I can say the same about live chat, email, and meetings. My initial experience of these filled me with delight in the process of sharing ideas. They all now seem more like an obligation than a priviledge.

So in my attempt to reclaim my own sense of daily delight in my work and online pursuits, I am cutting down on all these attention traps, drastically. In their place, I hope to clear some space to experience and to reflect more, and to allow my own insights to emerge.

As my esteemed friend, Joe Botha, has said: "The true breakfast of champions is a low information diet".
AuthorDave Duarte
12 CommentsPost a comment
Creative Commons licenses are built on traditional copyright. They may be free, but they are proper legal documents and are enforced using the same proceedures as traditional copyright law. They are simply a way to allow creators to easily communicate which rights they reserve, and which rights they waive for the benefit of other creators.

There are some basic clauses that enable this:

Attribution Attribution. You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your copyrighted work — and derivative works based upon it — but only if they give credit the way you request.

Noncommercial Noncommercial. You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your work — and derivative works based upon it — but for noncommercial purposes only.

No Derivative Works No Derivative Works. You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform only verbatim copies of your work, not derivative works based upon it.

Share Alike Share Alike. You allow others to distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs your work.

Interestingly, when these licenses are applied to online works, they contain meta-data that describes them and allows the works to easily be found online. This is why the CC search functionality built into Firefox is so useful - it helps  people easily find works (e.g. pictures) to re-use legally.This can enhance the pass-along (aka viral) effect of some creative works.

Lastly, the fact that these licenses are free should not be overlooked. Hiring a lawyer to license a work appropriately can be expensive and complicated. When you apply a CC license to your work, you're bringing to bear some of the most outstanding legal minds in the world today. These licenses were designed to work in today's hyperconnected world.
AuthorDave Duarte
8 CommentsPost a comment
eMarketing TextbookCongratulations to the Quirk team who have just released the first edition of their eMarketing textbook. Just before it was published I was sent a digital copy to review, and I found it to be thorough, well written and full of good examples and explanations.

Furthermore, the book has been published under the Creative Commons. This means that if you download or buy the book, you can copy, remix and share it with as many other people as you like (as long as you don't sell your copies).  I believe will go a long way in increasing the knowledge and expertise of eMarketing in South Africa.

All delegates on the upcoming Nomadic Marketing programme in October will get a copy of this book, and I think that it will help re-enforce all the fundamentals of eMarketing which are necessary in order to create truly extrodinary campaigns.

Checkout the book website, where you can download a free .pdf version of the textbook, or order your print version.
AuthorDave Duarte
82 CommentsPost a comment