Georg Franck-Oberaspach is an architect/urban planner, computer programmer, economist, and philosopher. He studied philosophy, economics and architecture. Holding a doctorate in economics, he became a practising architect and town-planner in 1974. In addition, he was active in software development and produced a planning information system, which has been marketed since 1991. Since 1994 he has held the chair of computer-aided planning and architecture at the Vienna University of Technology. Since 1994, he has been working as a professor of digital methods in architecture and regional planning at the same university (TU WIEN) where until 2015 he was the head of Institute of Architectural Sciences as well as the head of the department of Digital Architecture and Planning. Besides these main responsibilities, he has been engaged in writing widely on philosophy, economics and architecture.
≈ 36 minutes
This article outlines a theory of the economy of attention constituting the logic of the mass media in contemporary social life, focusing on celebrity as the key manifestation of the accumulation of attention capital. I explain how the mass media exchange information and entertainment for attention, which is in turn monetised via advertising. The field of celebrity is a ‘vanity fair’ functioning as a stock exchange of attention capital – measured in circulation and viewing figures, ratings, likes, visits and so on – a form of capital that earns interest and generates additional income for those in its proximity. Overall, I argue that we are living in an era of ‘mental capitalism’ in which the relations of production themselves have inverted the relationship between the material and mental worlds, so that the realm of ideas is now the driving economic force. The article concludes by outlining the shape of a new, quaternary sector of the economy, characterised by de-materialisation and virtualisation, and raise the question of whether a focus on new forms of virtual and ideational value might possibly improve the sustainability of the world we live in, if the struggle for attention replaces the struggle for material goods. (Originally published in Merkur, vol. 47, issue 534/535, pages 748–761. Translated to English by Silvia Plaza.)