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Filtering by Category: "attention data"

Ma.gnolia rolls out APML support

Added on by Chris Saad.
Ma.gnolia, the web's favorite pure social bookmarking site has launched their APML support today.

They have used Engagd as their APML provider. Engagd made it possible for Ma.gnolia to integrate APML support with a couple of simple API calls. The rest of the text analytics and APML generation is done by our servers.

This is a great day for the cause of DataPortability and the growing ecosystem of tools that respect user rights by allowing us all to export useful attention data from various silos. They join Cluztr, Newsgator and others who have already announced or integrated APML support.

It was a pleasure working with Larry and Todd the Ma.gnolia founders, and I'd also like to thank Chris Messina (fellow DataPortability workgroup member) for the introduction!

For those unfamiliar with APML, here is a blurb from the official APML site.
"APML allows users to share their own personal Attention Profile in much the same way that OPML allows the exchange of reading lists between News Readers. The idea is to compress all forms of Attention Data into a portable file format containing a description of ranked user interests. "
You can learn more about their implementation on their blog.

Microsoft puts a price on your Attention Data - $4999.80/year

Added on by Chris Saad.

USD$4999.80/year - that's how much Microsoft values your Attention Data.

As Dallas writes on his blog:

If you would like a free copy of Windows Vista, then simply go to

The catch? You have to allow Microsoft to watch your every move for 3 months, and there are also some other requirements (below). This of course isn't for everyone, some people wouldn't care less and some would definitely have to think ten times about it before going ahead.

I really don't know how I feel about this program, since my privacy is worth quite a bit. Will they be tracking websites I go to, software I use, content I post on websites? In a world where spyware software exists to calm the ever increasing paranoid attitude of the public, how would a program like this be treated by the masses? While I am fairly confident that my online security is safe with Microsoft (credit cards, etc) do I really want to put my digital life on the line for the small price of one software product? Kevin - Notebook Review

What do you get?

  • Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate (32-bit and 64-bit DVD)
  • Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007
  • Microsoft Money Plus Premium
  • Microsoft Student with Encarta Premium 2008
  • Microsoft Streets and Trips 2008


  • First off, you have to be an American resident and over the age of 18 years.
  • You must own the computer you will be using.
  • You are required to fill out a survey at the start, and then every 2 weeks.
  • The automated program is offered to Windows Vista and Windows XP customers only.
  • The survey feedback program applies to all versions of Windows.
  • Microsoft, comScore, and MarketTools employees are not eligible to participate.
Matthew Hall (aDB) from Twitter has worked out the exact value of this bundle of software for me (thanks Matthew!)
Well here's the numbers I get from Best Buy :

Total Bundle Value at Best Buy $1249.95 - for 3 months of your Attention Data.

Interesting hey?

Google reader set to abuse more of your Attention Data

Added on by Chris Saad.
Cross Post from the Engagd Blog:

The recent leak of Google's plans for its Google Reader product are interesting. Particularly the following point:

Very soon, Google Reader will recommend feeds to the user, based on previous subscriptions and other Google activity.

Every day, more and more applications - particularly Google Apps - are starting to use and abuse your Attention Data.

This is a growing concern that I have been tracking for some time.

From that previous post:

Are you so willing to give up your rights so easily? You are, in effect, saying that you are happy for Google to absorb all your personal data - your digital identity (incidentally your digital identity is quickly becoming a large proportion of your overall identity) - and you're going to TRUST them to be completely benevolent about it? Forever?

You want no leverage? None? You don't want any accountability? Ownership? Mobility? Economy? Transparency? Because while I love Google as much as the next person - they are not transparent. And they do not respect your Attention rights.

This brings me to my next point. Economy implies that something (property) has value (in this case your Attention Data and Attention Profile). It also implies that you can transfer your property (and its value). You can sell it and leveraged and do all sorts of fancy things. It also requires multiple participants in an ecosystem.

So to dig deeper into Sam's original question "Is Google Building the Attention Economy?" the answer is no.

Google is not building the Attention Economy. They are using their huge surface area to try to grab as much of your Attention Data as possible to target and sell ads on TV, Radio, Web and Print. They are increasingly becoming an 'Attention Aware Advertising Company'.

Another key question now is, if you have an application that displays RSS/ATOM, do you have a Personal Relevancy/Attention Data strategy? If not, your software will quickly become obsolete.

Join the APML workgroup and add Engagd functionality to your feed reader today (as others are) to make sure your feed reading efforts remain relevant (pun intended).

APML Conversation heats up

Added on by Chris Saad.
The APML conversation is heating up. The launch of has kicked it into high gear and bloggers are catching onto the idea of creating APML files to make their Attention Profiles portable.

Chris Abraham has posted a piece over on Marketing Conversations. He writes...
An APML is meta-meta. It doesn't care too much about your subscriptions (the Particls software allows you to import an OPML file to start) but it does care about how you interact with the blogosphere implicitly. It is a little like OPML + eHarmony.

Over time, your APML might mirror your true love interests and tastes. Your APML might know you better than your spouse! Than your very own sweet mother, even. To say nothing of yourself. You can become your very own market researcher, your own auto-pollster. Potentially, suggested Chris, people can meet and greet based on their APML.

...a great attention driven reader should make you feel like you need a tinfoil hat to protect you from its accurate mind reading powers. If folks can figure out how to truly leverage the APML, then this might just well become a reality.
Janet Johnson has responded to Chris' post with her own "I'm taking my Attention with me..." write-up. She writes:
I've often wished I could use my "Janet, we have book recommendations for you here…" information from Amazon elsewhere online. Apparently, (with thanks to
the heads up from the folks over at Marketing Conversation) now I can.

The Faraday Media team are happy to see that references to APML, Engagd and Particls are a daily occurrence now. We are glad that our work, and the work of the APML Workgroup is striking a cord with the community.

Social Network Portability - Continued

Added on by Chris Saad.
Mashable and Dave Winer are also talking about Social Network Portability and unlocking data silos.

Dave says:

Then vendors who have been on the right side of this issue will be the heroes.

It happened with copy protection, a similar issue to data lock-in. One vendor with a very popular product took the lead in challenging the more established companies. Borland, with Sidekick, was the product that broke the dam. Users wised up and refused to buy products that were copy protected. It could happen again.

I am so glad this issue is finally getting some traction. As I have said many times on this blog - while Facebook has gone some way to letting apps in, they are still far from allowing data and users out.

As reported, some very smart people are working on the problem. And of course there is APML.

Opening up Attention Silos

Added on by Chris Saad.
Alex Iskold over on Read/Write web writes once again about the Attention Economy. He eloquently describes the state of proprietary Attention silos and the need for open standards and APIs for capturing and remixing Attention Data and profiles.

He rightly points out that APML could be a key driver to bringing about a more open and transparent ecosystem.

The APML Workgroup is still growing and the first round of APML supported apps are now well underway starting with Particls, then with Engagd and with Dandelife, Cluztr and iStalkr (using the Engagd API).

Read his post to learn more.

Announcement: APML Open Source Libraries in C#

Added on by Chris Saad.
In yet another milestone for the APML Workgroup and the APML format, we have published the first open source libraries for loading and manipulating APML files.

From the site:
APML will allow users to export and use their own personal Attention Profile in much the same way that OPML allows them to export their reading lists from Feed Readers.

The idea is to boil down all forms of Attention Data – including Browser History, OPML, Attention.XML, Email etc – to a portable file format containing a description of ranked user interests.

These libraries are a result of months of R&D and iteration by the Faraday Media development team and we donate them to the community in the spirit of open collaboration and mutual benefit. They are released under the extremely liberal Apache 2.0 license.

We encourage anyone who would like to support or modify the libraries to get in touch so we can help in any way we can.

My thanks to Ashley our CTO and Mike and Paul the two ninja programmers who have been involved with the library and the APML workgroup who's input has helped to create the 0.6 spec.

We look forward to seeing what new and interesting projects get created with this resource.

The repository can be found on Google Code.

Twitter vs. Jaiku vs. Loopnote

Added on by Chris Saad.
I avoided writing about twitter for a long time - everyone has posted how wonderful it is. Even mainstream media including the local Australian Financial Review (in which I was quoted).

There are two main reasons why Twitter is so great.

1. It's dead simple
2. It has lots of great people on it.

As Robert said in one of his Twitters:

"theuer: well, Jaiku is reacting slower than Twitter. It requires more clicks to see your messages than Twitter. And is more complicated. I never knew of it until today, which isn't saying much. What's cool about both of these is the people on them. NOT the technology."

The success of Twitter, though, makes me both happy (to see something grow so quickly and succeed so much - we should all be so lucky) and sad (to see two other services in the same space loose out on all the hype just because the 'right' people were using the competition).

Both Leo (TWiT fame) and Scoble got into Twitter around the same time and started a huge Twitter land rush. That, combined with a celebrity co-founder (Ev - of Blogger fame) made Twitter an instant success.

I actually posted about Twitter and Jaiku a long time before it became popular and actually said that Jaiku was better. But I think I made a mistake. A mistake the Robert Scoble repeated today in a discussion on Twitter itself.

Both he and I (much earlier) compared the two and equated them to the same thing.

I actually think they are quite different. Twitter is simpler, but Jaiku is attempting to be something more comprehensive and different than Twitter. The two can actually co-exist and compliment each other.

While Twitter strives to answer one question "What are you doing", Jaiku asks a very different question (implicitly). It asks "Who are you".

Where Twitter has evolved into almost a chat room, Jaiku has evolved into a Lifestream.

What's the difference? Well what you chat about and 'do' is only part of the picture. There are also photos, bookmarks, blog posts, music selections and more - each of which are not found on your Twitter stream. In fact I have seen many argue that they should NEVER be found in Twitter. Twitter is for human updates about human things.

The advantage of a Lifestream is that it creates a living record of ALL your digital activities. Jaiku calls them Presence Streams - but they are the same thing.

My Jaiku Presence Stream has my blog posts, my Twitter stream and my Flickr photos. Others include their links and more. While there are hacks and mashups out there to make RSS imports into Twitter possible - I don't think it belongs there.

So now Leo is moving to Jaiku. Does this mean everyone else will follow him? Robert already has.

With all the Attention being paid to both these services, a little known service called Loopnote is being overlooked. In part this is because their team is not engaged in the conversation. If you read the comments on Robert's post about setting up a Jaiku account, Martin (who I presume is the CEO of Loopnote) is asking frantically why no one is paying attention to his product.

As Robert says - you have to join the conversation Martin.

Maybe Loopnote is not quite as good as Twitter (for example it seems to have more of a focus on announcements from groups to individuals rather than individuals to individuals), but it's also a little bit of luck. If Leo stumbled into Loopnote first, maybe the whole thing would have gone a different way.

This post is getting a little long.. but I'd also like to point out a very clever observation that Robert makes on this post about Twitter's potential for advertisers.

"You're missing the even bigger opportunity for marketers: people are telling us WHAT THEY USE and WHAT THEY LIKE.

If you can listen and learn to engage people on Twitter you'll find a marketing goldmine here. If I were really smart, I'd hire a team to categorize each Twitterer 24-hours-a-day. I'd start building a database of behaviors shared.

Someone say "changing the diapers." Well, now we know they have a newborn at home. What could marketers do with THAT? TONS!"

What you are actually talking about is 'Attention Data' Robert. I think that Jaiku does a better job at getting a complete picture of your Attention Data (considering you can stream all your personal RSS into it). But rather than give it to advertisers (yuk) there are opportunities to create personal filters out of the information to help reduce information overload.

See: APML and Touchstone. More on this later.

Your Attention Profile - The Non-Evil Way

Added on by Chris Saad.
Aaron Mentele from FeedRinse has posted about APML.

He says:

"Chris Saad and Ashley Angell of Faraday Media / Touchstone have introduced a standard format for attention data. I’ve had a chance to look through the APML (Attention Profiling Mark-up Language) proposal, and short of seeing the word Profiling and noticing email address as an attribute in the profile, it looks promising. I can see a benefit to having an agreed-upon format for attention profiles, similar to the HL7 spec for personal health information."

It's a great read about Attention Profiling in general - check it out.

Announcing initial participants for the APML Workgroup

Added on by Chris Saad.
An initial set of participants in the APML Workgroup have been announced. APML stands for Attention Profiling Markup Language.

From the website:
APML will allow users to export and use their own personal Attention Profile in much the same way that OPML allows them to export their reading lists from Feed Readers.

The idea is to boil down all forms of Attention Data – including Browser History, OPML, Attention.XML, Email etc – to a portable file format containing a description of ranked user interests.
It is a fantastic group to start with and we are all very excited to get the ball rolling.

They are:

The APML Workgroup is tasked with converting the current specification into an agreed standard. We invite all the players in or around the "Attention Economy" to join us in realizing APML. To join the Workgroup please contact us with your qualifications.

Members of the general public are invited to join the mailing list (via the website) forums or blog to provide feedback.

More about APML

In a world where our online footprints (Attention Data) are measured, dissected, analyzed and used to better target us with content and advertising APML represents a way for users to take back control of their own Attention Profile.

In order for the study of 'Attention' to evolve into the Attention Economy we must have a way to export, own, trade and assign value to our own Attention Profiles. APML promises to become an important part of the solution and we believe this announcement is a significant milestone in it's development.

Attention Profiles will become our digital fingerprints and will eventually have implications for all aspects of our lives including Media, Business and Lifestyle.

Stay tuned...

Digg to Support OpenID, Mine Attention Data and looking at APML

Added on by Chris Saad.
Lots of chatter today coming out of Future of Web Apps conference about Digg founder Kevin Rose's talk.

Kevin discussed supporting OpenID and mining Attention Data in an effort to create more personal news for users.

There has been quite a bit of discussion about Digg's implementation of APML as well.

These are all good moves by Digg to open up it's platform and play nice with others.

Attention Streams - Your life in feed

Added on by Chris Saad.
Stowe Boyd just pointed me to posts that Emily Chang and He (separately) just posted about Data streams.

From Emily Chang's post.

For now, this activity stream idea is providing the start to a holistic view of my activity across online networks: both my own and the ones I use. In turn, this acts as a conduit for you, the reader. Rather than just a static “recommended links” page or a blogroll, the data stream opens up my activity to you in semi-realtime and at one website.
They are both interesting posts on Personal Aggregation. There is a service called Jaiku which does much of the same thing without the databasing and searching.

I personally don't see the aggregation of multiple feeds as anything too amazing. That's what a feed reader does. The more interesting improvement is the fact that the data is then re-syndicated to a single, aggregated feed. But Touchstone has been doing that for months and months. And any feed splicing service can do it easily. Our feed also includes ranks for how 'Personally Relevant' each of the items were.

The final step that seemed interesting to Emily was databasing the results and searching on them later - that would be an easy output adapter to make.

Stowe has focused on the idea of routing items to other applications so you can take action on your attention stream. This too would be a simple matter of writing an output adapter to trap Microformats etc from Touchstone. In fact it's been on our adapter ideas page for ages. It's been there since before I can remember.

Once we release the updated SDK to developers they should be made in short order.

As a bonus, Touchstone would also alert you to important changes in your stream.

Might have to chat to my mate Stowe about the project he is cooking up - could be room to work together on it!

The hardest thing I have to do every day is to decide what to ignore

Added on by Chris Saad.
What a great line:

The hardest thing I have to do every day is to decide what to ignore.

This comes from Jeremy Zawodny.

He goes on to say:

I need to invert my thinking. I should be starting most days with a strong idea in mind of what I want to spent the majority of the day focusing on. If there's time left, I'll tend to the other distractions.

This has implications for both business and media consumption:


Jeremy is correct. We must define our scope of interest first, and then make intelligent decisions about what to pay attention to.

That's what Touchstone does with APML. Your APML file (generated by Touchstone or any other APML compatible service) describes your scope of interest. Toucstone then ranks and filers incoming information for you against that profile.

Jeremy I'd be happy to give you a Beta Invite - drop me a line.

Some might say that this approach limits spontaneity or serendipidy. I'd argue that if you want spontaneity check Tailrank or Techmeme or Digg - they are fantastic Popularity/Meme Engines.

If you want a productive awareness of what you do all day, you need an Attention Management Engine.

Now some might say this sounds all academic and very 'Business Productivity' focused. But the reality is that this applies to media consumption as well. With a growing underbelly of great niche content, it is becoming very difficult for content creators to find an audience and audiences (or should we say participants) are finding it increasingly hard to pick the right entertainment experiences from a huge range of possible choices.

Thanks to Paul for pointing me to this post

I'm falling in love with my APML file

Added on by Chris Saad.
When you are intimately involved with developing a piece of software you grow to become unattached to your application configuration. At any given time the next experimental build might blow up and kill your settings or you might have to delete your config files to see what a 'fresh install' might look like for a new user.

Over the last year I have destroyed many an installation of Touchstone - each time thinking nothing of it... Deltree *.* (don't you remember DOS?)

Lately though, I have noticed a change. As the app has switched from a Swiss cheese set of features into a complete product my APML file - the file that contains my Personal Attention Profile - has started to become precious to me.

I can no longer just delete it and start again. It has grown to identify me. It produces content results that I like. I want to protect and nurture it. In fact now I back it up and carefully ensure that I never let it die in the process of trying the next experimental build from the dev team.

My APML file is becoming "the digital representation of my physical self" (Morpheus - Matrix 1).

It is obvious that APML is going to become something quite personal for people, and I would like to publicly recommit ourselves to protecting and nurturing it with all our might.

We are the user's ally in the fight against information overload and the search for great, personally relevant content. And APML is our BFG.

The Internet: One big rolling focus group for TV execs

Added on by Chris Saad.
According to (your trusted source in news - fair and ballanced, we report you decide) TV execs are using adavanced software to get focus group type data out of the online conversation!

"Using company-designed technology, BrandIntel scans "literally billions of blogs, message boards and forums" using specific key words such as an actor's name or show title, said Coristine, lead analyst for BrandIntel's media division.

(Toronto-based BrandIntel does consumer research for other industries, including automative and hospitality.)

The flood of data is filtered for relevancy and then sorted and ranked to indicate, for instance, how likely someone is to view a program or whether they like or dislike a series premise. It can be cut even finer, according to BrandIntel."

Wow. I wonder what that software is.

Imagine if the average Joe had access to it for their product, industry, brand and interests.

Congratulations to Google - Attention Data Matters

Added on by Chris Saad.
I have said a few negative things about Google recently - it seems like they have had a run of bad luck. But this post has made me happy - Mihai and Google have caught onto the idea of Attention Data (although he never quite calls it Attention Data) - and has created a 'Reader Trends' page for us all.

FeedDemon has actually been doing something along these lines for a little while though. I'd like to think that Mihai and the rest of the Google Reader team knew this? Why not give them credit?

In any case, seems like 2007 really will be the year of Attention Data. Lucky we at Touchstone are one step ahead of Attention Data and have moved onto Attention Profiling and Attention Management.

Via Micro Persuasion - Thanks to Marianne for pointing this out for me.