The Attention Pool

Summary:I was going to call this post Morons in a Hurry in honor of the Fab Four trial quote by Apple Commuter's attorney, where the phrase was employed as in "Only a moron in a hurry wouldn't understand that iTunes wasn't a record company." Then I was going to call it Scoble Jumps the Shark in honor of Robert's clueless defense of Supernova's braindead speaker strategy.

I was going to call this post Morons in a Hurry in honor of the Fab Four trial quote by Apple Commuter's attorney, where the phrase was employed as in "Only a moron in a hurry wouldn't understand that iTunes wasn't a record company." Then I was going to call it Scoble Jumps the Shark in honor of Robert's clueless defense of Supernova's braindead speaker strategy. But I then spent the weekend alternately debriefing and being debriefed of my anger with Mike (TechCrunch) Arrington, producing four Gillmor Daily's worth (no, 5 counting a failed unleaded redo) of venting before finally taking Mike's advice on show 3 to give Scoble a call and "just chat."

So now everything is hunky dory if a bit Second Life koolaidy (see last post for rare link) and so Robert has apparently escaped the Jaws of Death (not Office of course) and we are good. Thus tranquilized, I stepped out into the Blogosphere and got creamed by a couple of fast-moving mememeisters--Umair Haque and A Player to be Named Later. I met Umair for the first time online, the author of a powerful PowerPoint that rolled up the Attention Economy in 84 gazillion slides, making it indisputable for even public service radio producers (Stephen Hill) that Something was indeed Up with Attention.

I avoided reading the slide deck at the time, mostly because I was up to my ass in alligators trying to invent the Gesture model and didn't want to be distracted by other ideas, even better ones. When I finally did look through the deck, I was pleased to see how rigorous his approach was, and how successful at capturing the disruptive nature of the transformation he and many others discern. Eager for more, I subscribed to his blog and waited.

The second time I met Umair was in person, in the super-secret high-powered Business 2.0 building in downtown San Francisco, where Om Malik pretends to do his day job. The occasion: a galactic convention of startups and a few late-invited hangers-on like me. Between the time I met Umair on- and off-line, he had developed an extension or overlay or something of his atttention work under the rubric of edge competency. Forgive me if I don't get this quite right, because I admit I don't have my arms, or even fingernails, around what he's trying to say.

Certainly that's OK with me. Not only have I been accused constantly of being confusing or downright misleading, but I completely agree. This blog is as much if not more therapy for me than the Therapy session I recorded with Scoble on Sunday. The only possible difference is that I am not trying to sell papers, reports, or other products based on this stream of opinions, stabs in the dark, guesses, and mere trouble-making. Some might argue that Gillmor Daily and Gillmor Gang are just such products, but since most people tar those shows with the same brush (including the other Gangsters), I guess you've already been warned.

So today I pick up the paper (no, there is no paper, it's my InfoRouter) and here's Umair telling us that Fred Wilson is wrong. More precisely, ABC is wrong in offering hit shows with ads for download:

You might think so - everyone in the industry is applauding Disney for having the courage to be so 2.0. Though Fred and Jeff are impressed, my take is different: I think Disney is making exactly the wrong move.

Certainly, unbundling TV from distribution is a good first step. It will provide a bit of a top line boost, etc. But it's the wrong first step to sustainably create value at the edge. I outlined and predicted this months ago in my TV 2.0 research note.

I could past in the rest of Umair's argument, with lots more edge words like bundling and unbundling and links to more reports (presumably for real edge money) but I won't. Not because I think he's wrong about this--it seems logical as far as it goes--but because he appears to be following ABC's bad model himself: Littering his (potentially) terrific insights with ads for his ancillary products. The unfortunate result of this strategy (which Umair describes as akin to a nose job in ABC's case) is to raise the question: What does Umair do for a living?

This is the same question, parenthetically, that I often ask about Jeremy Zawodney: What is his his day job? I know Scoble's job. Perhaps Jeremy has told me or told us on his blog, or told us what it used to be, or what it has morphed into, or ... But let me be clear: I think Umair, and Jeremy, are brilliant people who deserve and probably have great jobs, or will very soon. There's a lot of money on the table in this Attention economy, and they are sure to get their share.

But if I understand Umair correctly, he should take his own advice and strip mine those commercials out of his content, or do what Redmonk does and just ride on the fact that there's lots more where that came from, or contribute to the GestureBank so we can sell his Gesture stream for what it's certainly going to be worth (a lot.) The other guy is John Hagel, who Umair points to in dithering about Doc Searls' Intention Economy post. John makes the case that he and a co-author invented the idea of reverse markets 7 years ago, an idea that I never heard of until today but which sounds a lot like my argument that search is being inverted from users looking for information to information looking for users. Or gestures, which Doc suggests is similar to his idea of intention.

However, Hagel posits intelligent agents as the "infomediaries" of this inversion. But...

For a variety of reasons, the infomediary business model has not yet taken off, but I continue to believe there is a significant economic opportunity waiting to be captured by businesses that cross the table and explicitly take the side of the customer, rather than helping vendors to find or “capture” buyers.

I haven't clicked on the variety of reasons link. Let's see... what happenned in the last 7 years.... Oh, yes, RSS. But RSS puts that business in the hands of the users, not the vendors, if they want to grab at the opportunity. John, contribute to the GestureBank or some other truly open pool and your long national nightmare is over.

Me, I'm with Fred Wilson:

It means they get The Future of Media. They are freeing their content and monetizing it on the web. It looks like they are microchunking it, but it's not totally clear.  And I am not sure about the syndication part.  But it doesn't really matter. They get it, they are leading they way.

But it also means they are not deliberating, they are obliterating. They proved me wrong about big companies, at least one big company.

Remember: You've got to be in it to win it. Send email from Gmail to gesturebank AT and contribute to the open pool. We're not deliberating either. 

Update: Umair responds

Topics: Tech & Work

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