mental energy

Economics has long studied the tradeoffs of physical objects. How many objects of this type could I trade for that, or, given my skills, what objects should I make and which should I purchase from others?

Quickly, the dismal science realized that time had an economy to it as well. I will pay more to have something now and I will discount utility if I get it in the future. People will also of course pay for leisure time.

Just recently though, I think economics is starting to grapple with the idea that there might be an economy of mental power. Maybe this is philosophical prejudice, but during my day, my ability to process information effectively and to keep up with the ideas rushing through my brain (this is not supposed to be an elitist point about my enormous brain, but rather about my hyperactive tendency to overanalyze things) becomes severely taxed. In fact, when I thought of this post, it would almost erased forever by a succeeding thought, but I wrote a quick note to myself; a note that I almost didn’t even understand.

This is related to the information revolution. I think iphones (and of course, ipads too) are a symptom of a realization that quickly, the biggest constraint on human development is our own ability to remember what the hell we’re doing from second to second. Multi-tasking is a trite self help phrase, but it’s also an expression of a new direction in human needs.


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