In July I wrote about the debut of AttentionTrust.org, a non-profit promoting the basic rights of attention owners. Attention is this case is related to what you do online. On Tuesday the organization will launch the AttentionTrust Recorder, a royalty-free, open sourced downloadable piece of code that keeps track of an individual's behavior online. You can get the details in a podcast that features AttentionTrust Chairman Seth Goldstein and fellow ZDNet blogger and President of the organization, Steve Gillmor. Mike Vizard, late of CMP, and Sam Whitmore of Media Survey were the independents on the podcast.
"Everybody ought to have a record of what they pay attention to. It's not such a radical thought, yet in age where everybody else is tracking us how come we can't track ourselves," Goldstein said during the interview. The recorder provides a mechanism that allows consumers to keep a record of what they pay attention to (a trail of online interactions) and to potentially confer value on it. "The copy or record belongs to [the individual], and they have the ability to move, share, store and delete it, and to have visibility into how it is being used," Goldstein said.
Sharing and extracting value depends on the services collecting data conforming to the AttentionTrust.org's principles. With two-way AttentionTrust, individuals can choose to make their metadata available to any compliant Web site, which could use the information to personalize the experience and send specific offers. It allows markets to reach a receptive class of users, while still leveraging Web economics, Goldstein said.
Goldstein has started a commercial company to take advantage of an AttentionTrust.org network, generating business leads for advertisers based on services and individuals who are "bound by the principles of attention trust." Hence, your time (attention) can equal money. Advertisers get qualified leads more efficiently and consumers get offers that are more targeted based on their attention "tracks."
Whitmore noted that the "language and communications overhead for [AttentionTrust.org] will be formidable outside of Silicon Valley and some of the other pockets of digital awareness." Well said. Goldstein called it a chicken and egg situation: "No developer is going to write killer apps unless enough consumers participate, and no consumers are going to procatively share data unless there are interesting services to do things with."
Gillmor said that a tipping point has been reached in the transition from people finding information to information finding people, with AttentionTrust.org as a driving force. I asked Steve what services have signed up in pursuit of overcoming the chicken and egg conundrum. "I can assure you that there are some interesting developments both in the RSS trenches and among major platform players," Steve said. Not much in the way of specifics. He's saving whatever is up his sleeve for Web 2.0 this week...