Michael Goldhaber, How Play Works Out and Work Plays Out in an Attention-centered Economy Abstract: While many see the Internet and digital labor on it as simply a new source of capitalist profits, I see it rather differently. What I will call the attention system is a new, post-capitalist “mode of production” that revolves around the paying and receiving of what is most intrinsically scarce: attention from other human beings. The recipients are also individual people, much more than either groups or corporations. Thus it is a new class system, composed of net attention receivers, stars, and net attention payers “fans.” The class relations are quite different from those of capitalism. Paying attention is a form of labor, even though under most conditions it seems fully voluntary. One is aligning one’s mind to that of the attention recipient, and in this state one is in general willing to try to some extent to do what that recipient wants. When one has a huge number of fans, this attention wealth can be quite powerful. While it is true that companies seek and sometimes make large profits through the Internet, I view that as entirely a secondary phenomenon. One way to demonstrate that this new mode is already very nearly dominant over the old capitalist one is in terms of an index that I call the TPI index, which can be roughly evaluated according to the different kinds of “transaction” in each mode. The index value for the attention system turns out to be far higher today than that of the capitalist mode. I began my professional life as a theoretical physicist and early on was a founder of Science for the People. I soon turned to questions of technology and society, taught socialism and Marxism, authored Reinventing Technology: Policies for Democratic Values and about 24 years ago originated the idea of a new kind of economy based on attention, which I think has come to dominate. This is the attention system. Formerly I called it the Attention Economy though that expression has been hijacked as far as its common meaning. It is an extremely prominent aspect of the Internet. I’ve written many articles, columns and blog entries relating to this. Other interests include extending human rights, human evolution, abstract painting, photography, gardens, elephants, philosophy and post-modernism, and Democratic Party politics. I live in the SF Bay area.