Harold Lasswell, one of the founding fathers of the field of communication research, had a lifelong interest in patterns of human attention. For example, in 1941 he published an article entitled "The World Attention Survey," in Public Opinion Quarterly. That article influenced my choice of a doctoral dissertation and led to my first book, Television's Window on the World. That was way back in the late 1970s.
Today other scholars have concluded that we live in an "attention economy." This is an interesting way to conceptualize the revolutionary impact of digital computing, storage and communications technologies over the past several decades. On this topic, I recommend Goldhaber's article in First Monday.