Like some 90 thousand or more folks (according to FeedBurner stats) I monitor the TechCrunch blog through RSS subscription. Late last night I ran across this post by Marshall Kirkpatrick who Mike has pulled in to help monitor and report on this web 2.0 world evolving around us. Marshall covered new entrant Touchstone and their beta of their consumer facing "attention engine." I was made aware of touchstone some time ago and read the blog of its founder occasionally, Chris Saad, though I hadn't looked for a while....until the TechCrunch coverage.
And I did post this reply in the comments (and fixed some typos here):
" “First Attention Management Engine” …ummm, I don’t think so. But, it looks kinda cool though.
“Information overload” is indeed a problem and has been our focus at Attensa for some time now. As our name implies, our “attention engine” is the core of our IP. We clearly have a different approach than touchstone from a business model perspective, but we agree with muc of the “manifesto.”
Attensa has invested literally millions over the past several years on our attention engine technologies, with some work dating back to 2000. While we agree on the requirement of client side attention engines (like the one that communicates with and is in Attensa for Outlook 1.5) we believe it is equally important that this capability be buttressed with a massively scalable server side infrastructure to glean the same attention benefits for the community at large (or affinity groups) for intelligent priortization and recommendation. Doing this with very large amounts of transient meta data - in real time - is very, very complex. And, obviously, we believe, very very useful.
Incidentally, RSS just happens to be the first data type we are utilizing to enable our customers to cut down on information overload. The “first attention management engine” was shipped a long time ago - by Attensa. We didnt say anything for a while but did unveil the existence of the technology at Gnomedex in summer 2005 surrounding our “attentionstream” technology. It handles instantaneous syncing for us but in the background it is monitoring literally hundreds of detailed behaviorial characteristics and, btw, clickstreams are hardly the most interesting or useful mecahnism for deriving attention value. For ad targeting, MAYBE, for attention, NO.
In any event, welcome to the show Touchstone, we’ve been carrying this bag solo for some time now. "
Attensa is focused on business, enterprise business more specifically, and recommendation and prioritization are priorities. Further, while our "Attention Engine" is a well-functioning client side app running on hundreds of thousands of desktops, the real value of what we call attention streams are best realized when applied across users and groups. The Attensa Feed Server is the first such implementation of our server-side attention engine and I'm happy to report that it was installed (as an appliance) in the data center of a Fortune 500 company just last week and working beautifully! Stay tuned for more info on that...
Lastly, TouchStone's Saad has also commented that their offering is a companion to RSS readers. He is spot on with this too, to a point. Long term, I'd love for Attensa to not have to do the actual readers, but to create the necessary attention data and deliver the optimal user experience - in real time - it is a necessity for now. Outlook 2007 and its RSS? It is a DREAM for us, but I'll save that for another post. We are licensing our technology to others are in in some exciting discussions, but our business model (for the time being) is not in the web 2.0 "mash-up" genre. We are doing some very complex math on a massive scale (client and server side) to make all of this work without end user intervention - such as creating rules, filters, or manual overrides. Client-side only engines are the small part of an exciting equation, or at least that's my view.
The net, net is that attention is getting more attention. For consumers (web 2.0) and for business (enterprise 2.0.) "Are you paying attention?"
P.S. More posts soon from me on Microsoft's impact, open XML spec for attention, and where Attensa is going (not just RSS readers...)