How fungible is attention?

Drawing a crowd and then advertising to them is now common web business architecture. Pay for your business with other people’s eyeballs. Here is a variation on the idea I’d not seen before though. This hosting company asks that you pay for their hosting services by spending time in their online forums. Pay for your business with your own eyeballs. Interesting.

While this reminds me of those free vacations paid for by spending two hours locked in a room with a timeshare salesman; it’s actually more like the online communities where members accumulate karma points to achieve status. In this game you win hosting services. They even show the current score of the player’s in their forum postings.

Systems like this are a fascinating edge case in the space of accounting or currency system design. The points are slightly analogous to loyalty points like those used in the travel industries pricing games. Of course these points aren’t even as fungible as those. outragous seeming patent case suggests that somebody has probably already patented the idea of creating attention points and their related markets, accounting, etc.

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