Directory of Attention

By | May 11, 2007

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

3 thoughts on “Directory of Attention

  1. Pingback: Neuland

  2. wanderingstan

    Hi Jeremy,

    I’m the author of the AttentionTrust Attention Recorder. Yes, attention is *the* important thing to understand in this information flood.

    You might enjoy my take on attention, “Attention is Meme Sex (and Google is the dating service)

    I’m now the founder and CTO of Lijit. We basically turn online personalities into their own search engines. You should give it a try…or at least see what our auto-discovery algorithm can find of your online content. (It’s cool!)


  3. Attensa

    Jeremy, great aggregation of resources on the growing conversation surrounding attention, to help tie them all together. Scott made some follow-up comments about your post over on the Attensa blog.

    Have you had the chance since then to look more into the Outlook RSS reader that you mentioned? Attensa is excited to have recently released a new version. It takes attention data a level deeper — before, the AttentionStream Learning Engine could prioritize rss feeds based on user reading behavior, and now it can prioritize content at the article level. It learns what readers pay the most attention to in their rss workflow, and ranks/promotes the data accordingly.



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