Design spaces under capitalism

Consider the following: since we have cognitive biases that determine what tends to capture or attention, any system where that attention is something to compete for will eventually lead to exploiting those cognitive biases. Those systems that do not profit for attention-grabbing mechanisms will not survive long unless they are necessary.

That means that the space of design under fierce competition (in an economy of attention such as the one fostered under capitalism) will always adopt certain harmful form under no regulation.

That is: there is no form of advertising that is not exploitative of our biases. In fact, the only limitation we impose on it is how far does it go into this exploitation.


The same could be argued of any digital asset that profits from time spent in it by a consumer (see particularly social media). Arguably, I’m guessing we could even say the same of propaganda in general, mobile phone apps, some forms of subscription-based videogames, and… yep, probably anything.

The idea of “dopamine fasting” and those kind of pop-science social media abstinence rutines seem to point at the idea that people are generally aware of this.


I’ve never decided the public space I use daily should be occupied with ads, in the same way I have no saying in curriculums of the various institutions I’ve gone to through my formative years.