Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Undivided Attention is a Worthy Product

This should be obvious, right? For any number of reasons however, it isn't. One hears occasional references to "the gift" of undivided attention. But a more likely scenario, is frustration with individuals and circumstance when they demand "too much" of one's time and attention. Again, one's "free" time either tends to be in high demand or scarcely any demand at all, depending on the skills sets that individuals are able to utilize in the marketplace for monetary compensation.

Some personal skills - as a result - can become arbitrarily devalued in one's personal networks, even if they bear little relation to one's paid work. A marketplace for time value, would seek to remedy this, by reaffirming individual choices which have been all but forgotten in - and sometimes because of - normal workplace settings.

Economically, the undivided attention of others can be a most beneficial consumption option. We often seek out personal attention, when our ongoing activities shift into a different phase which needs to be examined before proceeding further. The undivided attention of others is not a service which is continuously needed. Even so, too many educational settings are a mixture of divided attention between teachers and students, which are not truly conducive for either.

Since many services activities occur in regular maintenance routines which do not need continuous observation, it is not always obvious, when ongoing patterns need some form of adjustment - hence undivided attention. If there is no response (or adaptation) at crucial moments, system breakdowns can result. When left too long, system breakdowns can require tremendous effort, just to discover where problems have originated. Where are the critical junctures? How does anyone know when undivided attention would provide the most benefit? In a marketplace which seeks to economize on skills compensation, it's not always easy to determine how much space or time to provide for undivided attention.

The first part of this post considered undivided attention in a production based sense. But what about undivided attention from a personal consumption standpoint? Think about the vast array of products one buys over the course of a lifetime. Undivided attention is often one of those memorable products (or experiences) which stands the test of time. More often - however - when consumption includes higher skills sets, skills/time value is diluted to some degree, to provide access for lower income levels (high skills on a low skills budget). Results may range from teachers with auditorium sized classrooms, to doctors who have but five minutes to spend with a patient.

Even though undivided attention is sometimes considered "priceless", this is not necessarily a good thing, because it also means that not everyone expects undivided attention to be an available economic option. Indeed it may not be, which is something that a marketplace for time value would seek to remedy. Without that option, assistance is often sought for knowledge based matters from family, friends, and the internet.

While there's nothing wrong with self reliance in services on the part of lower income levels, consider the economic attrition that would result, should tradable goods also be limited in this manner by governments and markets! Part of the growing self sufficiency backlash of the present in tradable goods, is due to government and private interest imposed limits on an open market for non tradable services and asset formation. Eventually, further limits in services formation would mean further limits in traditional production. With a little luck, neither of those limits to long term growth should have to be necessary. Time arbitrage would provide a more diverse marketplace as a compensated economic function, so that individuals can reach beyond their personal network for both tradable and non tradable goods formation, well into the future.

Whether or not one considers informal services needs as economic, this time use matters because it gets to the heart of services functions which need more flexibility in provider and consumer expectations. Presently, people often end up accessing unnecessarily high skill levels to gain undivided attention for services questions. Or, people try instead to extrapolate from broadcast media channels intended as generic information. Time arbitrage would give groups the chance to better manage knowledge resource capacity on voluntary terms.

A few stumbles along the way would be inevitable, in the attempt to recreate a marketplace for undivided attention. Even most classrooms are not well suited for this form of teacher student interaction. In recent decades, digital media has allowed the U.S. to become a DIY society in many ways.

People in the U.S. have become conditioned to tend to many personal issues - and the related services - on their own. But asking for assistance re moving to the next level of proficiency - or working through a problem - should not be considered a sign of personal weakness, or treated as such. Indeed, aggregate skills capacity would gradually improve, through better coordination and organization for time value. It's odd that progressives complain how we are an individualist society - determined to take care of things on our own - when a lack of access to services formation has plenty of bearing on this reality. We haven't had the kind of marketplace that would allow us to work together more cooperatively.

Time arbitrage would enhance our own continuous efforts at self improvement. No one needs the undivided attention of others on an ongoing basis, but the marketplace needs to be aligned so that it remains possible for individuals of multiple skills levels to interact with one another for services needs. Also, time arbitrage could possibly provide more room for undivided attention, in the moments when it is needed most. In a marketplace which too often has to cut corners on labor costs, that fact alone could make quite a difference.

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