Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Attention Profiling: APML Beginner's Guide

The basics of attention profiling through APML ...

"Attention profiling is quite possibly the next wave of smarter, more relevant web browsing. APML is an emerging standard that promises to make it much easier for websites and services to cater to your exact tastes, reducing the information overload of seemingly endless web content.

When you browse the web and sign up for various social media services, information is being collected about your interests and tastes. If you shop at, for instance, each time you look at a different book or DVD, Amazon makes a note of what you were checking out and makes suggestions as to other titles you might be interested in.

And when you sign up for social networking websites such as MySpace or Facebook, the explicit information you give - your gender, age, favorite recording artists and so on - is gathered, in addition to the more implicit information about which profiles you visit, or Facebook applications you install.

For the companies involved this is big business - as there are marketing firms willing to pay a lot of money for this sort of information.

For the end-user, though, there are certain benefits too.

We have reached the point of information hyper-saturation. It can become quite a chore to find relevant content online, when there is so much other information competing for your attention. But by implementing attention profiling, it becomes possible to have the services and websites you visit begin to make suggestions for content that you might be interested in.

APML is a proposed standard that gives you greater control over your own attention data, and in principle will allow you to selectively record your attention profile - the sites you visit, the search terms that interest you most, the content you most commonly link to - and share it with your favorite websites and services.

It is already being supported by several prominent online destinations, and shows no signs of slowing down.

In this beginner's guide to APML I talk you through the basics, how APML fits into a wider trend as we move towards a smarter "semantic web", and how you can make use of it today in your day to day web surfing and information seeking.

In her excellent introduction to attention profiling through APML, Marjolein Hoekstra describes attention profiles as:

"...consolidated, structured descriptions of people's interests and dislikes. The information about your interests and how much each means to you (ranking) is stored in a way so that computers and web-based services can easily read it, interpret it, process it and pass it on should you request and permit them to do so."

APML provides a standardized way to collect and rank your attention data, then, in such a way that the information gathered is useful to the sites and services you use on the web, that they might better provide you with tailor-made information and content that suits your particular needs."    (Continued via Robin Good, Marjolein Hoekstra)    [Usability Resources]

APML Matrix - Usability, User Interface Design

APML Matrix


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