Product & Startup Builder

Filtering by Category: "web 2.0"

Faraday CEO One of the 30Under30's

Added on by Ash.


There are only a limited number of start-up founders in the world, even less who sets his or her mind to change the very fabric of the internet. Chris is one of them.

When Chris and I founded Faraday Media, it was of extreme importance that just being another startup was not enough. We had to do something meaningful. Something significant. Not happy with fame or glory, we wanted to grow as people - giving back to a medium which had fed us for long time. To take the internet to a new place, just like Google had done nearly a decade ago. Its been a long road for Faraday, and while it hasn't always been easy, Chris' drive and aspiration has bought us to new and extraordinary heights, time after time after time; often at great personal sacrifice. I could never ask for a better CEO, or friend.

It's no secret that Chris and I are the best of friends and it makes me very happy, to congratulate him on being selected as one of the 30Under30's for Anthill, the leading entrepreneurial magazine in Australia.

From the website:

At 26, Chris Saad is one of Australia's most impressive young web entrepreneurs. His theory and practice around web standards - specifically 'DataPortability' and 'Attention Management' - have gained significant traction and are set to have a profound impact on the evolution of media in the digital age. Saad has co-founded several web-related companies and organisations, most prominently Faraday Media in 2006, of which he is CEO. Faraday Media is developing Particls, a technology that learns user habit and taste and delivers relevant information to them via news crawler, SMS, email, flash visualisations, etc. He also co-founded the Media 2.0 Workgroup with 14 industry 'commentators, agitators and innovators'. There's no shortage of ideas or energy in this digitally-minded entrepreneur. One to watch in the years to come.

Make sure you click through to the Article, subscribe to the mag and read the other 29 profiles!

This is recognition to a man whom has dedicated and sacrificed so much for the greater good, a true philanthropist. Well done Chris, you are definitely deserving of this prestigious award and will no doubt be one of many in the years to come.

Data Portability, User Rights and Best Practices

Added on by Chris Saad.
Following on from yesterday's post about the User Bill of Rights...

All the issues are converging. The commentators are pushing for their rights. The innovators are building the pieces (Microformats, APML, OpenID etc). All that's left is for the aggitators to force the issue.

Chris Messina is my hero. Read his latest post about the bill of rights and the issue of user ownership and control of their user data.

He writes:

In any case, if we’re to make progress on this topic, we also have to understand a) why this kind of portability hasn’t been embraced heretofore and b) how it has been hindered.


I alluded to this earlier, but according to danah boyd, there’s a lot of people who seem really to not mind leaving their profiles (and “internet friends”) behind when they jump sites or — heck — forget their passwords and have to start all over. Is the problem as bad as we, the prolific social networkers with “inhibited manifest destinies”, seem to think it is? Or is this just a problem with the early adopters who have thousands of friends that they seem to think to want to cart around everywhere while they increasingly find themselves with ever-diminishing amounts of time to even “play” social network anymore?

Ah, humbug.

From Interruption to Engagement

Added on by Chris Saad.
This is a great little article about moving from 'Trade'marks to 'Love'marks. Brands that create compelling products that don't necessarily help users know more - but rather feel more. The best part is as follows:

"The Attention Economy has become the Attraction Economy. We’ve gone from Interruption to Engagement; Reactive to Interactive; Return on Investment to Return on Involvement; Heavy Users to Inspirational Consumers; Big Promises to Intimate Gestures; and from Consumers to People. "

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.

More chatter about Particls

Added on by Chris Saad.
A whole set of blog posts have sprung up last couple of days about the need for a tool like Particls.

Alex Iskold on RWW writes:

"We need a tool, an assistant, that understands our processes, understands what we are doing, when we change tasks and when we finish them. It needs to be with us everywhere - on and off line and on the go. As much as possible, this tool needs to help us juggle our tasks and restore the context, recall and store information and make our life easier for us. This is not Artificial Intelligence, this is basically a glue for all the things that we are trying to juggle and ways we are trying to juggle them."

In response a number of others have chimed in:

This is exactly the goal of Particls. We are not quite there yet - but it's certainly a worthy goal.

Michael Arrington doesn't get Personal Relevancy

Added on by Chris Saad.
Mark Lewis has written a piece over on Cnet about the need to flip the information delivery model. He writes:

"Web 2.0 flips the information delivery model upside down--it's now about global access, and information at your fingertips, aggregated from sources that you don't even necessarily know about, or care where they exist. Based on a set of search criteria, information in all its rich forms--media, video, audio, images, documents, text--all will be assembled together in context and delivered to users and applications for real-time experience."

That's a very poetic way of saying that in an age of hyper-choice, the most important challenge is to move beyond 'What's popular' toward what's 'Personally Relevant'.

I happen to also agree with Mark's suggested implementation - Source agnostic aggregation filtered by persistent search (and Attention Profiling) and delivered in real-time.

We call it Particls.

With the announcement of Streamy and Thoof, however, Michael Arrington over on Techcrunch has declared that Personalized news is pointless and will never work.

He's felt that way for a long time. I know... because he told me so while we were playing poker. A number of other people have suggested the same thing to me as well.

However, there are two things those people don't understand.
  1. Particls is not about Personalized News, it is about Personalized Alerting. We use the personalization part to rank content and determine how urgent the alert is for each user on an individualized basis.

    Thoof, Streamy and others are doing a very different (and worthwhile) job - and they are all potential partners of ours. We wish them the best of luck.

  2. Just because something has not worked before does not mean it is not worth doing again and again until it's done right. There is a place for popular, social news experiences (as Digg's popularity has proved) and there is a place for targeted, personal and solitary news experiences (as Digg's trolls and pop-culture content has proved).

Increasing 'Time Spent' and site revenue with Particls

Added on by Chris Saad.
A post on slashdot covers the Buzzmetrics/Neilson news that:

" that one of the largest Net measurement companies, Nielsen/NetRatings, is about to abandon page views as its primary metric for comparing sites. Instead the
company will use total time spent on a site. The article notes, "This is likely to affect Google's ranking because while users visit the site often, they don't usually spend much time there."

Pageviews have been barely useful for quite some time now. As a result, many (including myself with a proposal for AttentStreams and AudientStreams) have called for a change in standard measurements. has even moved to their definition of 'Attention'.

While Time Spent is a little more useful, it is not perfect. For example it does not factor out people who leave pages open in tabs and does not indicate a level of actual interactivity with the page/content/service.

Interestingly though, Particls (the application not the website) has an enormous time-spent value. We average more than 7 hours per user per day of time spent because the application is designed to persist in front of users all day (in the form of a news ticker - and soon - some other interesting presentation styles).

As a result, our publisher partners who distribute white label versions of Particls are experiencing huge jumps in their overall time-spent engaged with their brand, content and advertising.

Learn more about the white label partner program here:

Context and Aggregation are king

Added on by Chris Saad.
Daniela recently pointed me to this Bear Stearns report via her blog post.

In it they make the same observations that I and others have been talking about for more than a year.

"User-Generated Content (UGC) Is Not a Fad...
Some investors remain skeptical that UGC is more than a passing fad. However, in our recent online video survey, UGC is the No. 1 and No. 2 most popular content category among men aged 18-34 (M18-34) and among all respondents, respectively. Moreover, if we define UGC as page views only from sites such as,,,,, and (which is quite conservative), we estimate that UGC now accounts for 13% of total U.S. Internet traffic, up from 0%-1% in 2004. Based on these statistics, we submit that UGC is here to stay."

Although using the term UGC is not great, their conclusion sounds very familiar to anyone reading this blog.

"apparent to us that as supply of video content rises, value will shift from content producers to aggregators and packagers of content that can best aid users in finding content that fits their specific interests".

Of course, APML as a way of describing user interests, and Particls as a way of filtering and alerting users about new, personally relevant content, are both key technology pieces to this new media 2.0 reality.

Defining Social Media

Added on by Chris Saad.
Brian Solis (fellow Media 2.0 Workgroup member) writes about working together to define Social Media once and for all. I agree that it is well overdue!

He writes:
Social Media is, at its most basic sense, a shift in how people discover, read, and share news and information and content. It's a fusion of sociology and technology, transforming monologue (one to many) into dialog (many to many.)

It is an evolving phenomenon that has captivated some, intrigued others, and is feared and underestimated by many. But if you're new to this discussion, where do you go to learn about the basis for Social Media or simply its definition? The current "go to" reference is Wikipedia, and as I mentioned in previous posts, it is misleading, incomplete, and uninformative.

He goes on to say:

There are many of us who have spent the last year defining and defending Social Media as a legitimate classification for new media as well as documenting the tools that facilitate the socialization of content, including Stowe Boyd, Robert Scoble, Jay Rosen, Chris Heuer, Jeremiah Owyang, Shel Israel, Todd Defren, Brian Oberkirch, Chris Saad, Jerry Bowles, Marianne Richmond, JD Lasica, Rohit Bhargava, Jeremy Pepper, Greg Narain, et al. However, we always seem to run around in circles defining it and re-defining it, over and over again.

He makes a call for us to join in the conversation on Wikipedia to craft a detailed page. Let's make it happen!

Conversation requires a reply

Added on by Chris Saad.
Remember when we were all so impressed by the campaigns who had websites and used words like 'conversation' and used familiar tools like YouTube and Twitter?

Well a conversation requires two way communication guys. I emailed the Barack Obama campaign about something and I have received no reply. Not only that - I started getting spammed email from their mailing list. I never asked to be subscribed to their mailing list?

I have heard the same happen to others.

Is this a conversation or yet another cynical way to appeal to a constituency without really trying?

A conversation requires two parties - one listens, one replies, then they swap.

Are you guys paying attention?

MaaS - Media as a Service

Added on by Chris Saad.
Jeremiah - my friend and fellow Media 2.0 Workgroup member wonders out loud if media is becoming a service much like software.

I think it's an interesting question. I have recently re-downloaded the Joost Beta and started playing with it. A lot has been made about Joost's platform and how it is actually based on an elegant combination of on open standards technology.

It occurred to me that Joost (or something like it) could become for TV what the browser is for the Web.

While they are focusing on content deals with premium content providers right now - they have an opportunity to become the generic user interface for loading, remixing and socializing around streaming video content.

This would seem to me a step closer to Jeremiah's premise of Media as a Service (MaaS). If Cable TV is replaced by Joost, and Joost becomes an open service for the distribution of high-quality video content on scale, then we are indeed creating a series of tools, platforms and services that give us enormous capacity for media creation and distribution on demand.

Other companies like Microsoft, SplashCast and others are working towards similar services with very different implementations.

How can up and coming artists, enterprises and established media players take advantage of this emerging trend?

If media services are on tap, what are the implications for user choice and Attention Scarcity.

The Attention Economy Vs. Flow - Continued

Added on by Chris Saad.
Steve Rubel posts about his information saturation.

He writes:

We are reaching a point where the number of inputs we have as individuals is beginning to exceed what we are capable as humans of managing. The demands for our attention are becoming so great, and the problem so widespread, that it will cause people to crash and curtail these drains. Human attention does not obey Moore's Law.


My attention has reached a limit so I have re-calibrated it to make it more effective. I think this issue is an epidemic. We have too many demands on our attention and the rapid success of Tim's book indicates that people will start to cut back on the information they are gorging. If this happens en masse, will it cause a financial pullback? Possibly if ad revenues sag as a result.

Stowe Boyd writes in response:

No, I think we need to develop new behaviors and new ethics to operate in the
new context.

Most people operate on the assumption that the response to increased flow is to intensify what was working formerly: read more email, read more blogs, write more IMs, and so on. And at the same time motor on with the established notions of what a job is, how to accomplish work and meet deadlines, and so on.

In a time of increased flow, yes, if you want to hold everything else as is -- your definition of success, of social relationships, of what it means to be polite or rude -- Steve is right: you will have to cut back.

Who is right? Who is wrong? Maybe Steve is just old and Stowe is divining the new social consciousness.

Maybe Stowe is just being an extreme purist (Stowe? Never!) and just needs to recognize that there is middle ground.

Maybe the middle ground - Flow based tools that help to refine the stream.

Our eye scan handle the sun - but sunglasses are nice too.

John Tropea describes an APML enabled world

Added on by Chris Saad.
John Tropea has an amazing ability to keep in his head (and subsequently on his posts) a big map of all the related tools and applications that are remotely related to any given topic.

As a result of his encyclopedic knowledge of all things RSS/Attention/Recommendation, he has written a lengthy post about various applications of APML in every day web 2.0 tools.

He has a fantastic view of an APML enabled world that puts the user at the center of their Attention driven experience.

Read it here.

A Flow of Particls through your life - Stowe talks at Reboot

Added on by Chris Saad.
I just finished watching Stowe's talk at Reboot about something he calls 'Flow'.

You can watch it on CoRrElate.

Eric Norlin on the Defrag blog summarized the talk pretty well:

Stowe's basic argument (simplistically paraphrased) is that the tools we're using (social networking, etc) are actually changing the way our neurons are dealing with things - and that has led to 2 central propositions:

1. Time is a shared resource.
2. Connectivity is more important that productivity

As I have written before about Stowe's thoughts on Flow, I think that, for the most part, Stowe is on to something very interesting.

In fact I have been touching on the subject for a while now by arguing that news and alerts should not be treated like email with folders and items to be marked as read. They should flow by you in a news ticker, river of news and/or popup alerts.

As I wrote in my last post on the subject, the only concern I have with Stowe's thesis is that he seems to quickly dismiss the concept of the 'Attention Economy' without quite understanding the implications.

He claims that Information Overload and the economic metaphor for Attention does not fit. He means that we can not assign units of measurement to our Attention and allocate it as a finite resource because Attention can actually be tuned and improved with a physical changing and training of our neurons to perceive the world as a flow - letting the information flow over us. Just like a juggler learns to juggle many balls as a matter of instinct.

That may be true - and he is right that part of the Attention Economy is about assigning value to attention and trying to allocate it most effectively.

However, he is missing the fact that there are 2 aspects to the emerging Attention space that invoke economic theory:

  1. Attention is a finite resource and can be dealt with in terms of economic units that can be consumed - therefore an abundance of Information creates a scarcity of Attention.
  2. Attention data can be used to better target goods and services. The trading of this attention data, and the resulting efficient selection and presentation of advertising to drive sales is becoming an important economic driver.

Stowe seems to disagree only with the first point (I could be wrong - care to clarify Stowe?).

Firstly, I don't think it is as black and white as he states when it comes to point 1 - efficient allocation of our Attention.

Sure we can change our neurons and practice living a life of flow - in fact I advocate that we do - that's why Particls' primary interface right now is a news ticker and not a set of folders and items.

However, I think that tools that use Attention to better focus our stream can only help the process. A tool to funnel and tune the incoming information and present it in a method that is conducive to flow thinking can only be helpful.

On point 2. People are making money off your Attention. They are observing it, recording it and fine tuning advertising and content around it. They are also selling the data to each other. This gives it economic value. The question then is who owns this value and what are our rights as generators of the information and recipients of targeted information.

There is a real economy developing around this practice and standards like APML are about giving us participants some control back.

CBS getting attention for Jericho using AdWords

Added on by Chris Saad.
CBS is using AdWords to great effect to thank the fans for their show of support for the recently cancelled (and then saved) TV show Jericho.

Learn more about it on TVSquad.

I think it's a great attempt to reach out to fans and use the back channel to generate good will and publicity.

Well done CBS!

Continuous Partial Attention Revisited

Added on by Chris Saad.
Stowe has recently written about his ideas of 'Flow' and Continuous Partial Attention (CPA).

His premise is that we are not necessarily information saturated - that our brains are evolving to a point where we can let the information flow over us and stay continuously partially attentive to many things at the same time. He claaims that this is a perfectly natural change in our concentration and mental abilities.

He writes about Linda Stone - the guru in CPA.

"Linda and many others will tell us it will rot our teeth, disrupt family life, and lead to hair on our palms. I for one am not eager to turn off my devices and pay all my attention to one thing at a time, one moment at a time. There are too many targets on the horizon, too many members of the tribe, and too many jaguars lurking in the shadows for that. In my tribe, we don't do things that way."
I'm young - my brain can handle it for now - so I agree with Stowe (to a point) - however he also writes about Linda Stone's concerns about Continuous, Continuous partial attention having deleterious affects on the body and lumps us Attention people into it.

"[Linda's CPA concerns], along with Toffler's Information Overload (it's driving us crazy, he asserted) and the Attention Economy mavens (free information leads to attention scarcity). I don't buy any of it."
I disagree with Stowe on this point. We "Attention Economy mavens" and our focus on Attention are not antithetical to his ideas about information flow.

Actually I think, particularly we here at Faraday Media and Particls, we are exactly in tune with his message.

Information (particularly news) should typically flow - not pool.

Reading news in a folder/item email style metaphor is not as effective for the mainstream as having it flow by.

Note that I say the mainstream. Many of us early adopter control freaks like to read every item and have plenty of time to bury our heads in news readers. But that is not always the case - not all the time. An information flow (river of news, news ticker, popup alerts) is typically more effective.

Our work in the field of Attention is not about fighting off flow, it is about regulating the flow so that the stream is full of good content.

The APML Business Imperative

Added on by Chris Saad.
Ian has a great write-up about why he loves APML.

He writes:

This got me thinking too, what if other more established places like Trustedplaces, Last.FM, etc also gave away a APML file as part of the profile of each user?

One of the things I loved about APML is the Implicit Data (U-AR) and Explicit Data (I-AM) elements. You can just imagine how simple it would be to output APML from something Last.FM. (whats below isn't true APML markup, just my lazy json like writing)

Implicit (U-AR) {
concept{ Ferry Corsten = 0.87 }
concept{ Armin Van Buuren = 0.90 }
concept{ Sugar Babes = 0.1 }
concept{ Lemonhead = 0.00001 }

He also mentions being asked "What is the business imperative to support such a thing".

In other words - if companies make their money from data lockin - then why would they want to give that data away.

I would suggest that anyone asking that question consider that publishers used to think like that. Now they all support RSS.

If feed readers thought like that, then OPML support and the rise of proper and continued innovation in the space may not have occurred.

If you are a smaller guy, supporting APML means that users can jump in and get started quickly. The barrier to entry is lowered.

If you are a bigger player it means an increasingly savvy user base will continue to trust your data mining activities. Also it means you can get a more complete picture of your users if they choose to share their APML from other services. It also means you become part of an ecosystem instead of a data silo - data silos are dead.

In the era of user empowerment, the business imperative is: play nice or users will move to other services that respect their rights. Just watch the mad rush to Facebook.

Web Analytics Demystified - Getting there at least

Added on by Chris Saad.
Jermiah, Web strategy guru at PodTech and fellow Media 2.0 Workgroup memeber has a great video interview with Eric Peterson posted on his blog.

They discuss Engagement, Attention an Analytics. Great chat - well worth a watch.

I have previously proposed some new concepts for syndicating Attention analytics information called Audient and Attent Streams which will go a long way in helping us move beyond pageviews and server logs.

I also appreciate Eric's approach of multiple factors for measuring Engagement. Very much like our Personal Relevancy engine, we don't think that any single factor or method is enough for determining the importance of an item to a user - so rather we create a complex algorithm that takes many things into account proportionally.

Check out the interview on Jeremiah's Blog and check out Eric Peterson's consulting company Web Analytics Demystified.