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News Flows, Consciousness Streams

Added on by Chris Saad.
The New York Times doesn't know it yet, but an article published in the arts section is a prophesy for where their news business is heading. Ironically it's burried in the arts section.

"News Flows, Consciousness Streams: The Headwaters of a River of Words"

It's a post about the new art installation at the Time's headquarters. From the article:

Since The Times moved in June from its longtime home on West 43rd Street in Manhattan to its new, almost completed tower designed by Renzo Piano on Eighth Avenue between 40th and 41st Streets, two men - an artist, Ben Rubin, and a statistician, Mark Hansen - have all but taken up residence in the building's cavernous lobby, huddled most days around laptops and coffee cups on a folding table. Flanking them on two high walls are 560 small screens, 280 a wall, suspended in a grid pattern that looks at first glance like some kind of minimalist sculpture.

But then the screens, simple vacuum fluorescent displays of the kind used in alarm clocks and cash registers, come to life, spewing out along the walls streams of orphaned sentences and phrases that have appeared in The Times or, in many cases, that are appearing on the paper's Web site at that instant.

As stated on this blog many times - the future of information consumption is not stocks, but flows.

As information workers and members of the social web, we need to change our pre-conceptions that information must be collected, sorted and marked as read.

Instead we need to realize that there is so much beauty in the world, we just need to let it flow through us, making us feel warm inside (to paraphrase the movie American Beauty).

Newsgator and Bloglines support APML

Added on by Chris Saad.

We are very happy to announce the following new developments for APML.

NewsGator Announcement
NewsGator has just announced on their developer blogs that NewsGator Technologies Inc to support APML across its product range starting with FeedDemon, NetNewsWire and NewsGator Inbox

Further, The APML Workgroup is announcing:

  • With NewsGator Technologies APML implementation, they now join:

    These are three companies that already support APML using APIs. makes APML implementation quick and easy using a simple API— great for mash-ups all the way through to large-scale apps.

  • There has been a new site launched - It's designed to make APML a little easier to understand.

  • There is now a new APML public discussion group for the community.

  • There have been a number of new additions to the APML Workgroup:

    • NewsGator (family of cross-platform and mobile feed aggregators)

    • Bloglines (web-based and mobile feed aggregator)

    • Me.dium (social browsing)

    • Ma.gnolia (social Bookmarking)

    • Talis (semantic platform)

    • Peepel (multi-window AJAX environment and office suite)

This follows previous successes of the APML Workgroup such as:

Thanks and Acknowledgements

As usual, I would like to thank everyone involved in and around the APML Workgroup.

Particular thanks to the latest round of announcements must go to Chris Pirillo, Ben Metcalfe, Elias Bizannes, Daniela Barbosa, Ross Dawson and Marshall Kirkpatrick.

Also my personal thanks must go to Marjolein Hoekstra who has been instrumental in pushing things forward.


Digging deeper into the APML Spec

Added on by Chris Saad.
Elias Bizannes has posted a great follow up to Marjolein's Attention Profiling overview. While Marjolein explained Attention Profiling in general and walked through the user experience of using Engagd, Cluztr and/or Dandelife to get one.

Elias has dug deeper into the spec itself to explain the type of information you APML can actually store about you and how it maps to the real world.

From his post:

APML - the specification

So all APML is, is a way of converting your attention into a structured format. The way APML does this, is that it stores your implicit and explicit data - and scores it. Lost? Keep reading.

Continuing with my example about Sneaky Sound System. If MySpace supported APML, they would identify that I like pop music. But just because someone gives attention to something, that doesn't mean they really like it; the thing about implicit data is that companies are guessing because you haven't actually said it. So MySpace might say I like pop music but with a score of 0.2 or 20% positive - meaning they're not too confident. Now lets say directly after that, I go onto the Britney Spears music space. Okay, there's no doubting now: I definitely do like pop music. So my score against "pop" is now 0.5 (50%). And if I visited the Christina Aguilera page: forget about it - my APML rank just blew to 1.0! (Note that the scoring system is a percentage, with a range from -1.0 to +1.0 or -100% to +100%)

Read more on his post.

Basics of Attention Profiling - By CleverClogs

Added on by Chris Saad.
I've said it before, and I will say it again. Marjolein is a wizard. She takes complex and abstract ideas and makes very real examples and walk-throughs out of them.

She has done it yet again with her latest blog post entitled "Basics of Attention Profiling through APML".

As her blurb says:
"If you want to inform yourself of the basic principles of attention profiling or need to explain the concept to others then please read on. Feel free to add your clarifications, your conclusions and your constructive criticism to this deliberately non-geek conversation."

She begins with a great summary of the topics she will cover:

In recent months quite a few bloggers covered the growing adoption of APML, a proposed standard for attention profiling. Those about to give up reading here already, please don't. I personally found most of these posts delving in rather deep. If you want to inform yourself of the basic principles of attention profiling or need to explain the concept to others then please read on.

With today's post I'd like to make an attempt at writing a layman's article answering exactly these three questions:

  1. What is attention profiling and what are the benefits?
  2. What tools and services already support or endorse attention profiling?
  3. Where could you go next?

And answer them she does. With screenshots and all.

Check it out - show it to your Attention challenged friends - spread the love.

The post is already linked in a RWW post by Marshall.

Bloglines announces intention to support APML

Added on by Chris Saad.
Bloglines has announced support for OpenID and an intention to support oAuth and APML.

This is great news for users who want to take control of their Attention Profiles. We expect this to be the first of a number of announcements from larger players over the winter.

Thanks to Eric Engleman (New GM at Bloglines) for his support of open standards and user rights - he is really shaking things up over at Bloglines in the best way possible. Having spoken to Eric myself, it is clear that he has a keen understanding of the issues and is dedicated to creating an improved feed reading experience while giving users ownership of their own metadata.

You can read more on the Bloglines Blog. You can also implement your own APML support with just a few lines of code using Engagd.

Thanks must also go to Chris Pirillo for making the introductions.

You can read further coverage over on Read/Write Web where Marshall has done his usual thorough and eloquent analysis.

Further Coverage:

Ross Dawson from Future Exploration Network has written a very thoughtful piece about the growing APML movement and its implications for user control and advertising.

Ian Forrester from BBC has covered the announcement.

Elias Bizannes from PWC has also chimed in.

Daniela from Dow Jones has written a post. She may consider moving back to Bloglines now!

Duncan Riley over at Techcrunch has picked up the news also.

Why does CNN not get it?

Added on by Chris Saad.

Why is this poll on's home page?
  1. I don't have a pet
  2. I don't want to own a pet
  3. There are plenty of other more important things for CNN to cover than pets
  4. Argg!

Come on people... please. How hard is it to learn my interests and serve up relevant content (I don't even dare asking for APML support). Even without tracking user interests, I can almost guarantee you that people visiting do not care about Dog food. Not on the front page!

An even broader question - do they not watch Jon Stewart? Do they not get it? The world is begging for real questions and real answers to real problems. How hard is it to stick to real news in this day and age. Surely they can leave Pet food to the Lifestyle channel?

Why do they waste our time with O.J Simpson? Ratings? Imagine the ratings they would get if they actually picked a fight with Washington - if they actually spelled out the truth of things for everyone to hear and see.

This is why Media 2.0 will win. We can use tools to find the real content and skip the garbage.

Showing pets love... buh.

Google reader to support APML?

Added on by Chris Saad.
In his latest post about Google Reader on Read/Write Web, Marshall asks about the lack of APML support:

"I also wonder what the Google Reader team says behind closed doors about the proposed Attention Data standard, APML. It's great that Google Reader gives me access to data about my reading habits, but I'd like to take my data to other apps for personalization, thank you very much."

He rightly suggests that the new Bloglines push might very well outpace Google by choosing to support more innovative and open standards in their reader.

Steven Ashley suggests that APML support is already on the roadmap:

"Hopefully just because they are no longer in Beta, Google Reader will still continue its fast pace of new feature implementation. Still expected support for 40 different languages and feed recommendation system. In the future support for the proposed Attention Data standard, APML is also expected."
Does he have inside information?

The Me Meme

Added on by Chris Saad.
Brian Caldwell over on EponymousX has written a fantastic and poetic post about the Me Meme.

He writes:

Our own personal lifestreams, or "public timeline's" if you prefer, are slightly more mundane that the one from Final Fantasy, however it can still be pondered in an analogous manner. Our lifestream threads together everything that we are. Where we go, what we say, who we interact with, how we express ourselves, concepts inside artwork that we create, symbolism that we identify. All can be considered "us" or "me" in some, hopefully non-banal, way.

We say "me" a lot in our lifestreams. Not always directly. Indirectly also. Off the top of our heads. Well thought out over hours of writing and editing. At the snap of the shutter on our iPhone. While visiting at parties and gatherings. By connecting/friending/following through social nets. Generating our APML wake and bow waves through the public timestream. We are the social seed for our downstream online and offline, everyone has a built-in personal wetware network and many people let this stream filter back online, forming a personal lifestream wake.

It's a great read full of all-too-familiar names and experiences. It reminds me of the little rant we posted at

He also makes an interesting point. If the question of 'What do you do' becomes redundant at conferences, maybe we can move on to deeper conversations more quickly when we meet?

I know that I regularly talk with people I have never met. I trust them as much as people I have known in person for years. They are my advisors, my confidants, my partners and my friends.

The social consciousness is humming now. Can you feel it? Our Lifestreams and APML files are bursting at the seams. The best is yet to come. As our reach and reflection grows, maybe so too will our influence and insight into world affairs - both mundane and monumental.

Yes I love alliteration.

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).

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.

Social Bill of Rights - Media 2.0 Best Practices

Added on by Chris Saad.
A Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web Authored by Joseph Smarr, Marc Canter, Robert Scoble, and Michael Arrington has just been announced. Read it here.

It is an evolution of ongoing discussions that have been happening around the web for some time now and it's a welcome encapsulation.

I would agree with some of the commenters, however, that the scope needs to be a little broader.

I proposed something similar to the Media 2.0 Workgroup back on March 13 2007. Here is the email.

Date: Mar 13, 2007 2:31 PM
Subject: A project for the Media 2.0 Workgroup. Please send your thoughts

I'd like to propose a project for us all... something that will benefit the community and get a good discussion going. I look forward to your feedback!

This idea has come about due to a number of contributing factors. Many of you have expressed a desire to launch a project to focus our energy on something practical and useful to the community and through a series of discussions with Marianne, Jeremiah, Daniela and Ben here is my take on a great project we can take on together.

Media 2.0 Best Practices

To give emerging media platforms and participants an evolving set of 'Best Practices' to help encourage (or at least help define) open, democratic and transparent interaction. Further, to help participants who wish to engage with those platforms to know, at a glance, which aspects of the best practices they can reasonably expect to be applied to their experience there.

What's it look like?
I think that this could take the form of a Wiki and a Creative Commons style opt in process whereby we collectively define a set of 'pillars' and social media platforms can ascribe to the pillars they choose.

I think that the workgroup should be responsible for writing the initial version of this Wiki and then moderating it once it becomes public.

Some topics off the top of my head:
1. Ethics
a. Disclosure (sidebar vs inside the content)

2. Participation:
a. Allow comments
b. Moderation
c. Allow Trackbacks

3. Syndication
a. Allow RSS
b. Full feeds
c. Creative Commons

4. Marketing
a. Spam Vs. Contribution
b. Pinko Marketing

5. Privacy

6. Ownership
a. Export of Participant Created content and metadata via open standards

7. Revenue
a. Revenue share with participants

8. DRM
Can you think of any more?

We can then provide a Badge that site operators can add to their site (much like the CC badge) that indicates their level of (optional) commitment to each pillar.

I think we are collectively uniquely placed to do such a thing.

What is everyone's thoughts?



Whatever shape or form the rights take, however, I'd like to re-dedicate ourselves (Faraday Media and its products) to enabling user control of their personal information.

We are, of course doing this with APML (Attention Profiling Markup Language) and - the first open-standards based Attention Platform.

Emerging Social Fatigue

Added on by Chris Saad.
My friend Marianne Richmond has pointed me to a great video by Jeffrey Sass and a post by Jeff Pulver.

The video is a great little parody of the information and social deluge we are all experiencing trying to keep up with the million social graphs and applications we are participating in.

Jeff writes:

As real-time social media continues to evolve, I will know where my friends are, what they're facing, if and when they need help, when they have discovered something interesting and many other things they care to share at any moment. The people in my social media communications circle represent a group of people I feel much closer to than some other people whom I've known for a long time but never really have gotten to know. Sort of the difference between a well developed character in a novel as compared to someone whose character never gets really developed.

The parody video is supposed to highlight, however, the lack of scalability for all these social interactions. The mainstream will never participate in all these platforms at the same time. They will likely choose a few key apps and stick to them.

The key, however, is to make sure that our Social Graph is portable and our AttentStreams are syndicated.

As Jeff writes:

Over time this experience will only get better as the current high "signal to noise ratio" problems that many of us experience get solved with the advent of widely available social media filtering tools which will be able to be applied against the people/topics that matter the most to us.

A filtered stream of notifications is exactly what we need. Thank heavens for my Particls sidebar.

Facebook is using your data to target ads at you

Added on by Chris Saad.
According to the Wall Street Journal online Facebook is designing an ad system to use their extensive knowledge of its users to target advertising to them.

This move is hardly unexpected. Chances are many sites across many usage models are considering and implementing the same thing.

The WSJ writes:

Next year, Facebook hopes to expand on the service, one person says, using algorithms to learn how receptive a person might be to an ad based on readily available information about activities and interests of not just a user but also his friends -- even if the user hasn't explicitly expressed interest in a given topic. Facebook could then target ads accordingly.

The question, however, is how long users are going to accept having their information harvested and leveraged in this way - the very heart of the Attention Economy - without demanding portability and transparency.

The WSJ article continues:

While Facebook plans to protect its users' privacy and possibly give them an option to keep certain information completely private, some Facebook users might rebel against the use of their personal information for the company's gain.

And the perceptions that targeted ads create can be as much of a problem as the reality. "Most people don't realize how targeting works; it becomes so good that even though it's anonymous, you feel like they know you," says Rishad Tobaccowala, CEO of Publicis Groupe-owned consulting firm Denuo Group. However, he says Facebook needs to be careful in implementing any targeted ad system, lest loyal users "find it creepy."

This is key. Maintaining privacy is just a subset of giving users control. Control must include portability and transparency.

Using export/import formats like APML would soften the impact of privacy/control concerns. The problem is that walled gardens like Facebook (and yes - it is a walled garden) think that they need to lock users in in order to maintain their unique value.

The truth is, however, that unless Facebook begins to adopt more standards and open up its platform for export, it will be usurped by the first medium-scale network to do so. Don't believe me? Remember that little network Facebook that blew Myspace & Linkedin up by opening up just a little?

Let's hope that Facebook considers taking some measures before rolling out their new ad system.

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.

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.