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Death, Taxes, & Advertisements

An inquiry into the mining of the 21st century's most precious commodity: attention.

Death, Taxes, & Advertisements Poster — © Designed by Tony Tao Li

The phrase "Death and Taxes" is perhaps most famously quoted by Benjamin Franklin, "but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." This project suggests an update to the dated idiom: Death, Taxes, & Advertisements. Do I have your undivided attention?

Unveiling the Attention Economy

In an era characterized by digital immersion and constant connectivity, advertising has seamlessly woven itself into the fabric of our daily lives, emerging as an inevitable and integral method of capitalizing on the most precious commodity of our generation: attention. As the adage goes, "If you're not paying for the product, you are the product." Instead, we "pay" with our attention. This trade-off, free content for targeted ads, sustains the digital ecosystem. Attention fuels capitalism's engine, a modern certainty like Death and Taxes. Whether we're scrolling through social media feeds, exploring search engine results, or indulging in online videos, the moments we allocate to these activities are meticulously tracked, analyzed, and ultimately transformed into valuable currency within the economic engine of advertising. Understanding the interplay of content, commerce, and ethics in this attention economy is vital. But as we navigate this new world, a looming question remains… Are we truly aware of the value we exchange for the digital world's offerings?

About Tony Tao Li

Tony Tao Li is a designer with a background in Architecture from the University of Waterloo School of Architecture (Canada), currently completing his second year of studies in the MA Contextual Design programme at the Design Academy Eindhoven (Netherlands). His practice focuses on counterculture.