Attention is getting more and more ‘press’ in the blog-o-sphere these days - so much so in fact, that my latest attempt to read all my feeds today has helped crystallize some ideas.
- Gathering information about your attention is well underway (attentiontrust etc).
- Acting on your attention to give you the right type of information is underway (Google Desktop and Amazon’s recommendation engine).
- Collecting ‘group attention’ information and using it as filter to sort content is at the heart of many new sites/projects/companies (memorandum, digg).
- Attention is a commodity that each of us are quickly sapping each day (Attention Deficit).
- Attention is a renewable resource that can, on a day-by-day basis, be better used and focused to achieve our personal goals.
- If we’re not careful there will be so much information that most of the population will simply ‘turn off’.
Room for innovation
Even with all these great services the result is still more RSS. There is room on the edges, where users actually get their hands on the RSS, to help them digest it more effectively. Specifically:
- Giving your attention should not be a chore (This is distinct and different from giving information about your attention – which is already collected automatically by Amazon type systems). I am talking about feed readers and other mechanisms for focusing your attention on something.
- Once your attention is focused, the relevant site/service/content should add something to your day (enjoyment, productivity, experience, knowledge etc) in a way that fits into your lifestyle without requiring you to shift gears all the time (e.g staying informed while you work - rather than having to bury your nose in a feed reader all the time).
I call these two items “Content Form Factor”.
But this is not the Form Factor that device manufacturers talk about when they talk about PDAs, Tablets, Cell phones etc – I am talking about the method that content on those devices is packaged up and delivered to your eyes (or ears) in ways that make sense based on importance, priority, relevance, context and the attention preferences or automatically generated attention profile of the participant.
The issue at hand is not how to get a user’s attention information (that’s easy) but rather how to help the user manage what their paying attention to across all the things they care about – both local and in the cloud. To service their needs intuitively.
Content as a service.
Update: All of this was obviously a prelude to our thoughts and ideas for Touchstone. We have since made some important updates and announcements about how Touchstone will help users focus their attention... these include: