One great mystery of our time is how to hold an audience.
Simon Cowell seems to achieve it: so cosmetic dentistry is one answer.
But the rise, rise and rise of real-time apps like Twitter and OneRiot and then linked apps like Twitterfall suggest that capturing attention is about to become more infuriating and elusive than ever, as the age of handling things in nicely timed, spaced batches disappears.
In their excellent survey of Media Predictions, consulting firm Deloitte says that in the online social media part of this elusive world, people are wrong to look to make money out of collective engagement upstream but should go estuary:
If members are hard to monetize, the focus may need to shift to generating revenues from the aggregated value of their actions and behavior.
Fine. But that doesn't offer much of a clue as to how to do it.
Filtering content and trending topics may be in vogue. But to capture value from stuff that happens in real-time, there's a need to do more than track and edit.
Call me old-fashioned but to extract significance from something, it needs to be held in a space or place that allows value to be captured, aggregated, indexed and extrued.
In the 1980s, Heifetz suggested that leadership was not the same as authority or management but instead it was the activity of mobilizing "the community" to tackle difficult problems.
A key to mobilizing communities, Heifetz' suggested, was to create a holding environment, defined as
any relationship in which one party has the power to hold the attention of another in order to help them face up to their problems.
The term (apparently) originates in psychoanalysis to describe the relationship between the therapist and patient.
Could it be applied to the ebb and flow of not just social but also digital relations?