March 16, 2006

Attention or Eyeballs.. Attention or Intention.. Attention or Identity

"The eyes are the window to the soul." - Unknown
"If the eye is a window to the soul, then, the heart is the doorway to love." - Unknown.
"The world only exists in your eyes. You can make it as big or as small as you want." - F. Scott Fitzgerald

What's the difference between the static web and the live web?

What's the difference between consumers and users/amateurs?

What's the difference between attention and eyeballs?

What is attention? Lot's of people have discussed it, including Nick Bradbury, Steve Gillmor and Seth Goldstein, all of the Attention Trust. I'm on the board too, but my interest in joining it was a little different, though I believe in the core idea just as they do. To quote Seth's blog: "Attention is the substance of focus." The idea for the Attention Trust is that "users own a copy of their data" or attention stream or intention stream or whatever you want to call it. I'm going to leave the intention debate to others because while I agree with John Battelle, that these kinds of recordings can form a sort of 'database of intention' it's not my interest in this post to pick that apart.

Caterina Fake also blogged about this idea of users owning their data.

Etech's theme this past week was attention, though I don't think anyone there except maybe Michael Goldhaber really got anywhere near the idea that the difference between the eyeballs of old (10 years ago) and the attention question is really about participation, at least as far as users collecting it on themselves and reusing it, or sharing it as they desire. Not to mention the digital social gestures that people can now make, and collect, through participatory media online that go much further than the simple mouse over or clicks that were all that could be collected before. Now the aggregate of both, clicks and gestures that are much more participatory in nature are richer and much more meaningful, and quite a bit different than "eyeballs".

And what is participation? As far as the AT, it's about user control and choice, and an absolute right to participate. Or not.

Surprisingly enough, since last August, when the AT was formed and announced, it's been just so easily accepted by anyone asked, from the top to the bottom of those "database of intention" makers, that you should own a copy of your data. They own one copy of course, but we really thought it would be much harder to gain acceptance of this ideal. And yet, here we are. Pretty much everyone has said, ", yes, users own a copy of their data." The hard part is, how, how much, when, in what way, will all these companies share a user's data with the users.

So the reason I joined the AT board was because I feel strongly that users should own a copy of their data. But I also feel strongly that users should be able to keep that data private, have complete control over their copy, and shared control over other copies depending on circumstances, and those users have the absolute, unequivocal right not to participate in the attention economy, at least as far as sharing their own data goes, if they are asked to by some vendor or company or other entity. No question.

If Visa wakes up one day and decides to tell me I must give them my attention stream or kiss my credit card good bye, well.. the AT would need to step into the middle of that one pronto. I cannot abide by that sort of coercion, and so, my real interest in the AT is making sure that it's as much an advocacy organization for user's privacy and security from coercion, as it is for making a place for people to come to learn about how to own and user their own data and possibly interact with entities that might trade them for it, or share the rewards of turning over leads for marketing.

Omidyar, the foundation established by Pierre Omidyar to fund both for profit and non-profit ideas, has given the Attention Trust its support to explore this idea of having a non-profit, independent group supporting user's rights.

I'm also going to work with EFF (and hopefully EPIC and Markel) to make sure the AT work and the recorder tools are the most user-friendly and affirmative of user-control, privacy and security as possible. I would also appreciate any help from people in covering this as well, so if you have thoughts, please send them to me in email to mary at hodder dot org .... or comment below.

Tonight there is a talk on attention, at SD Forum if you want to come check out some attention ideas. I encourage you to attend if you are interested and in the area.

Posted by Mary Hodder at March 16, 2006 11:39 AM | TrackBack

Here's another good quote about eyes..."the eyes only see what the mind is prepared to comprehend."

Posted by: Pet Lover at March 21, 2006 12:10 PM