links for 2008-09-14

Directory of Attention

This week’s WSJ column (subscription only, I’m afraid) is about attention:

If you feel the Internet has both blessed you with an abundance of information and cursed you by drowning you in it, I have one word which might help make sense of it all: attention. (And, if you give me enough of your attention, I promise to give you a tip about how to cope.)

It’s beginning to dawn on people who ponder these kinds of things that it’s attention, not information, which lies at the heart of the new online world. In a world full of information, the scarcest commodities are your eyeballs and ears.

Here are some links to find out more. Suggestions very welcome, as ever.

Attention, according to The Attention Trust, is the substance of focus. It registers your interests by indicating choice for certain things and choice against other things. Any time you pay attention to something (and any time you ignore something), data is created. That data has value, but only if it’s gathered, measured, and analyzed.

A definition of Attention Data from Chris Saad. And I like this one from, again, The Attention Trust:

When you pay attention to something (and when you ignore something), data is created. This “attention data” is a valuable resource that reflects your interests, your activities and your values, and it serves as a proxy for your attention.

Wikipedia’s entry on the Attention Economy, and The Attention Economy: An Overview from the excellent Read/Write Web, are also well-worth a read (as well as the comments.) A look at Google’s role in all this from Sam Sethi, who asks: Is Google building the Attention Economy?

I quoted liberally from Anne Zelenka, who is writing a book on this kind of thing. Check out her blog here, and a great piece she wrote on where attention fits into the whole Web 2.0 thing.

Stuff to play with:

  • Particls, formerly Touchstone, which is a ticker that tries to understand you or tick you off. (My description, not theirs.)
  • I didn’t have a chance to write about Attensa for Outlook, but it’s trying to do something a bit similar.
  • Or the AttentionMap, which “helps you keep track of your attention on a daily basis.”

See also my Directory of Lifestreams

How To Remember Stuff

I long suspected this was the case, and now we’ve proof: Try too hard to remember something and you can almost feel yourself forgetting it. Stop trying to remember and it will come back. Of course, this could be extended to other mental activity: Your brain can only cope with so much stuff, so better to let it float and do what it wants to do. If it’s a good brain and has plenty to feed on, it should give you what you want in its own sweet time. Hey, a slacker’s manifesto.

clipped from scienceblogs.com

One explanation for this fascinating failure of memory is retrieval-induced forgetting, in which the retrieval of closely related concepts and words actually competes with the word or concept you intended to retrieve (discussed previously). The intended item becomes available only after the residual activity among the incorrectly retrieved items has decayed.