For years we have been pitching to investors the budding problem of "information overload" and how RSS is causing users to attempt to drink from the proverbial firehose. Low and behold ETech in beautiful San Diego this weekend is completely focused on, yep, ATTENTION!
Attensa founder and VP R&D Eric Hayes and his team have been working on real-world massively scaleable attention metadata technologies longer than anyone else - starting back in 2000. In fact, because of his experience he was invited to co-author the attention.xml spec because it was clear to him that those who had authored it originally had never actually built such as system. We think his contributions have really helped the spec along. Eric's talk (not a sales pitch) on Attention is today:
AttentionStreams vs. the Firehose
Eric Hayes, Attensa
Track: Products & Services
Date: Tuesday, March 07
Time: 4:40pm - 5:25pm
Location: Elizabeth F
RSS is an information firehose and there is no adjustable nozzle to control the flow. The hose is on or it’s off. By using AttentionStream technology to intelligently analyze our information consumption patterns, new possibilities are emerging for prioritizing and recommending higher value content that cuts through information overload.
Its somewhat eerie, listening to all these folks talk about Attention in such a huge setting. That said, it is reassuring seeing so much interest. We've been working on this stuff for a while and while our AtttentionStream technology is for now only powering our synchronization capabilities. BUt more is coming and we love talking about where we're going, especially behind the firewall.
From the ETech home page, cool. Attention is going mainstream it appears! (Well mainstream for a bunch of leading edge technical industry folks!)
Welcome to the Attention Economy.
For the past five years, the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference has found new networked innovations before they hit the mainstream. We've showcased peer-to-peer networks and person-to-person mobile messaging, web services and weblogs, big-screen digital media and small-screen mobile gaming, hardware hacking and content remixing. We've hacked, blogged, ripped, remixed, tracked back, and tagged to the nth.
And as ETech marches on, the stuff of which it is made shows no sign of abating: bandwidth continues to broaden, cycles are going spare, storage grows ever larger and cheaper, and content keeps flowing from the fire - hose. Yet our 60,000-year-old patterns of information processing haven't grown at the same pace.
This disparity is having a profound impact upon our social systems both on and offline, personal and business productivity, and the very future of so-called "knowledge work." The new network effects are going to be about attenuation—in a word: "less." Less raw data of the kind currently choking our inboxes and RSS readers, more intelligent sorting, synthesis, and routing of that data. Less noise, more signal. The businesses of the future will be built on delivering us less than the free services give us.
Technologies for creating, aggregating, and distributing data abound; the next important breakthroughs will be those that serve as the gatekeepers of our attention. As InfoWorld columnist Jon Udell puts it, "Devices are on or off. Channels are open or closed. The vast middle ground between those two states remains largely unexplored." It's in this middle ground that you'll find the technology challenge of 2006--and where you'll find the focus of this year's ETech.