Friday, June 30, 2006

Find the Edge of Attention

Determining what we pay attention to...

"Perhaps you’ve heard of Attention with a capital A? It’s the notion that in an increasingly content-packed world made up of TV, radio, newspapers, web sites, podcasts, RSS feeds, and email that we could, in theory, record everything we pay attention to and then it would be worth something or provide us value in some way. Following this idea we should be in control of it instead of advertisers who pay ever more money to learn as much as they can about us, even without our knowledge. Attention is flipping that model on its head. We know about us, pay us for that information and you can advertise to us.

But it’s not just about advertising. It’s also about what I’m really interested in: recommendation systems. Basically, recommendation systems are systems that record what we pay attention to in order to provide recommendations to us. Think Amazon.com recommending books to us based on our past purchases and Last.fm recommending music to us based on our listening habits. Those are great examples of specialized attention recorders that record only a sliver of what we pay attention to. (an important sliver, but a small one nonetheless)

Contrary to the previous two examples, the basic message of the AttentionTrust gang is that we should own our own attention data. (just try getting your attention data from Amazon) To that end, they’ve built an Attention Recorder that tracks clickstreams while you browse. You don’t have to do anything, it just sends data silently to a growing database of attention data. The problem is the same problem that us web designers have. You can’t tell much from clickstreams: no motivation, no intention. You can’t figure out why someone does something by looking at their clickstreams."   continued ...   (Via Bokardo)

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