The notion of attention economics is often traced back to Nobel prize-winning American economist, political scientist, and cognitive psychologist Herbert Simon. Writing about the problems of information overload in the 1960s, Simon wrote,
in an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.
Source: “Designing Organizations for an Information-Rich World” in Martin Greenberger (ed.) Computers, Communications, and the Public Interest (1971)