Last week Alex Barnett posted a podcast about Attention with guests Steve Gillmor (well known journalist and Chairman of AttentionTrust.org) and Joshua Porter (see his excellent web site Bokardo.) and his comments on the podcast interview. What caught my attention specifically in the podcast was also summarized by Joshua with:
"Steve’s vision is deep. He sees the whole art gallery, not just the Van Goghs. However, when Alex asks about his ideas concerning Gesture Bank, he sidesteps, fearing that he’ll give away too much. This, of course, was the reason why we asked him, of all people, to come talk to us. He doesn’t give away quite enough."
Steve is no doubt a smart guy. I've spoken with him several times, and I respect him as a journalist even though he seems to consistently contradict everyone else's viewpoint just for the hell of it (you can hear what I mean in the podcast.) At Attensa, we have committed to supporting the founding principles of Steve's AttentionTrust.org - well, we kind of are, we don't really think the rank and file knowledge worker will ever care about "managing" their attention proactively. We think people will want their "attention data" private if they were to actually think about it (they won't), and, they will just want stuff to work better for them with no effort on their part. But I'll defer debating end user's ability to care about any of this for another time.
What perked my ears was a comment on the podcast, to paraphrase, that he "didn't want to share his IP for free with startups so they could get another round of financing." Or words to that effect. I couldn't stop laughing. I wondered, is he talking about Attensa? Some other tech company? I immediately forwarded the message/podcast to Eric Hayes, Attensa co-founder and VP of R&D. Eric and I spoke with Steve in NYC at the offices of Root Markets after the BlogOn conference, and it appeared that he agreed about the significance of the opportunity with regard to attention and its specific application in the RSS area. We have always known Steve as a journalist, thought leader, and more recently Chairman of a non-profit - not a potential competitor. We'll see I guess.
Last summer at Gnomedex Technorati's Tantek Celik asked Eric Hayes to join as a co-author on the attention.xml spec. Why? Simple, after a 45 minute discussion between these two it became obvious, our technical team (led by Eric) has been working on this problem for a long time and knows, hands-on, a lot about it! At Syndicate in SF a few months ago our guys and others at Technorati teamed up and announced the move the spec over to the microformats site.
We have some 20 man years into our infrastructure that began in 2000, yes 2000, although then we referred to our work as "Transient Meta Data" so I do admit we adopted the "Attention" moniker as more clarity evolved in this area. Steve G. may have started kicking around the idea with David Sifry at Technorati three years ago but our infrastructure was processing some one million attention metadata micro transactions per minute on our development servers in 2000. That said much has changed in 6 years and there are a lot more to our AttentionStreams than just RSS.
There is room for many players in this space ranging from those focused on solving information overload through RSS to those dedicated to improving the overall quality of internet advertising. At Attensa, we are focusing on the former - for Business. And we're starting with RSS.
P.S. Eric tells me he has an e-mail from Alex Barnett to do a podcast interview on this very subject, so look for that soon I hope! Most of the attention discussions to date have been around ideas, not experienced implementation, and Eric has been tasked with stepping up and participating in these discussions.