Thursday, June 29, 2006

Buzzword alert: Attention

The idea behind is that other people are tracking what you're doing on the Web (your "attentionstream"), so you, the "attention owner" should be tracking it as well. Using Attention Recorder software.

This makes my head spin. What do you think?


  1. Anonymous1:40 PM

    Hi Mysterious,
    I'm the Executive Director of AttentionTrust. Thanks for pointing to us, but I'd also like to clarify a few things. If people use our Attention Recorder, which is a free, open source Firefox extension, to capture their clickstream, we hope that we're providing a useful service.

    But our mission as a nonprofit extends beyond that particular piece of software. AttentionTrust works to educate people about the existence of attention data and its potential value, to empower people to exert control over the personal data they're creating, and to build a community that supports the principle that users should be able to own, manage and exchange their data.

    Developing our Attention Recorder was an attempt to put a stake in the ground and allow people to start doing something tangible today to advance those goals, but it's not our sole purpose to promote the Recorder.

    I should also note that AttentionTrust does not gather data captured by users of the Recorder (the only exception being a demonstration project that we launched last Fall and have left up as a proof of concept.)

    Instead, we encourage anyone to set up their own "attention service" to store and analyze data from the Recorder. All the tools to do so are available at our site. We can offer some modest technical assistance if needed, but you don't even need to talk to us to go ahead and get started.

    Thanks again--I hope this is helpful.

    Ed Batista

  2. I like to point readers to sites where a concept (that websites are tracking your online behavior, and you can track it as well via downloadable freeware) is being turned into a paradigm with its own "scientific" language. The evolution of jargon in high tech fascinates me.

    Your email clarifies much of what the site renders arcane. Clearly, being plain-spoken isn't trendy.

  3. Anonymous7:46 AM

    capture their clickstream


    Mysterious is right--I can't take anyone seriously who chooses to tripletalk me instead of just stating. Using language like that is the recourse of someone who is trying to hide the fact that they have nothing to say.

    On top of that: If I have to decode what you're saying (clickstream? please), I won't.

    After reading Mysterious's post I was going to click the link. After reading your comment, I positively won't...

  4. Anonymous10:05 AM

    To commenter Eric,
    This is Ed Batista from AttentionTrust. I just responded to your post at Mystical Forest, but I thought I'd add my two cents here as well.

    The divergent reactions to my comment above point out how difficult it can be to find the right language for these issues. Mysterious Traveler thought my comment was a step forward by clarifying the language on our site. You thought it was a step backward and made things more obscure.

    Hey, I'm trying my best. I'll take the blame for failing to communicate clearly, but there's no hidden agenda. All I can say is that attention data and attention services are still relatively new concepts, and those of us working in the field are working hard to develop useful tools that will provide practical benefits to ordinary people. Clearly, I need to do a better job at explaining what we're about, and this exchange has been a useful lesson in that regard.



  5. Ed,

    I appreciate and admire your equanimity in the discussion. You seemed to have stepped into a seething bed of...writer/editors! Interesting, both Eric and I have worked for years in the tech industry, but on projects in which engaging consumers was paramount.

    Perhaps our way to thinking about writing is not as applicable to a site in which you are posting information for other industry "insiders." But our "jargon-watch" alarms go off, anyway. I rather expect that by this time next year "attention" will be one of the buzzwords we hear about in Wired.

    Mysterious T.

  6. Anonymous12:48 PM

    You seemed to have stepped into a seething bed of...writer/editors!
    It's true!

    But our "jargon-watch" alarms go off
    If by "alarm" you mean "rage!" then, yes! ;) You can't have a seething bed without some seethe...

  7. Anonymous12:56 PM

    Thanks, MT. You touch upon a very significant point: the challenge involved in going from communicating with insiders who are highly technical and/or fairly experienced with the subject at hand, to communicating with a much larger and more diverse audience. "Crossing the chasm," in Geoffrey Moore's framework. That's exactly where those of us working on attention find ourselves, and we clearly need to do a better job.

    And the rage is justified, Eric, if we can't meet that challenge and simply cause confusion. Further thoughts on your blog.