Michael Goldhaber’s proposed TPI metric on the disconnect between the ethical and monetary economy

In the recent article on peer to peer and the feudal transition and in Adam Arvidsson’s essay on The Crisis of Value, it is stressed that we now have two economies, an ethical economy and a monetary economy, and that we have problems in their intersection.

Coming at it from another angle, Michael Goldhaber talks about the Attention Economy instead.

The problem can be formulated in different ways, and the way I framed it was to say that there is an exponential growth of the creation of use value in the ethical economy, but that only a fraction of it can be monetized (hence the linear growth). Now, this is just an approximation, as I’m not good at maths at all. It does however make a lot of sense that there is so much more attention or ethical value created by say a sample video posted on YouTube, and the only marginal monetization that it engenders.

However, lo and behold, I just discovered that Michael Goldhaber is proposing a metric to prove just that point.

As we find this insight and synchronicity to be important, we reproduce Michaels’ definition\.

Michael Goldhaber:

T stands for Transactions per Lifetime (of each individual);

P stands for the Pool of People Interacted With (in the total of transactions) that is the number of people who are operating in a pretty unified economy;

I stands for the Intensity of Interaction, the strength of its effect on the life of the typical person affected.


In the feudal economy, the key type of transaction occurs only a few times per lifetime for the affercted parties, the knights (who can be lords or vassals, or both).

In the MMI (Money-Market-Industrial) economy there can be a few transactions per day, so maybe 1000,000 or so per lifetime.

In the Attention Economy, though, there might be a thousand or more transactions, individual paying of attention, per person per day, leading to millions per lifetime.

The Pool:

The POOL of people transacted with depends on how big the actual interactive economic unit is. In the feudal economy, because of the small distances people could travel and the small population, this number was smallest. In the industrial economy, for the most part factories and farms serve somewhat limited populations, even though the whole economy may be nearly worldwide. In the Attention Economy, audiences can be a billion or more, and vast numbers of the world can be in audiences for the same relatively few stars. So the pool is typically huge.


The final issue is the INTENSITY of the typical INTERACTION. In feudalism, each interaction was life-changing, either lifelong vows of loyalty and suzerainty for a lord and a vassal, or, alternatively, a serious fight, often to the death. In the MMI system, you occasionally buy a car or hire on for a new job, but mostly you buy things like a chair, a dozen eggs or a bag of potato chips, which have minimal effect on you. In the Attention Economy, paying attention changes who you are, in ways more profound than that, even if not as profound as in the feudal case.”

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