Links are dead, Doc

Good grief. My friend Doc Searls has reacted big time to my suggestion that links are dead.

Good grief. My friend Doc Searls has reacted big time to my suggestion that links are dead. OK, I was going to sugercoat it but if you insist....

Doc, last in first out. Links have leverage, attention doesn't? Well, every singloe new search play leverages attention characteristics-- Sphere, Memorandum, Attensa, Google Reader--or will soon. By contrast, pagerank is oh so broken, as Doc has reminded us since the first day it started bubbling up in PubSub. The idea that authority is best transmitted by a coarse-grained gesture like linking is bankrupted by the sheer volume of gaming that is emerging. Isn't this kneejerk response by Doc the same one the networks had when Neilsen first tryed moving from diaries to set top boxes?

Calling me passive aggresive is a page view slime in an attention world. Let me be clear, Doc. I appreciate links, I just appreciate more attention-focused gestures more. In a page view model, links drive flow which drives adsense revenue. In an attention model, citations drive subscriptions which drives reader/participant relationships. This is so far from passive it's not funny. I am specifically and overtly not linking to drive people to RSS and its fundamental time efficiency. Is linking passive aggresive by driving people away from RSS andf back to the page viedw model? No. Neither is what I am doing.

I'll forgive Doc the confusion between attention.xml and attentiontrust.org. Attention.xml is a specification co-conceived with David Sifry, and AttentionTrust.org is a non-profit co-founded with Seth Goldstein. I would expect attention.xml to be approved as an attentiontrust-compliant spec if submitted by Technorati, who are the authors and developers of said spec, given that it supports the four fundamental principles of the Trust. I am President of the Trust, but have no relationship other than the original idea with attention.xml.

But Doc is the pot calling the kettle black with this sentence:

And hey, Steve, if you want people to know what the hell you mean by "attention", how about pointing to searches like this one? Or to AttentionTrust.org? Might actually be helpful. And, more importanlty, non-manipulative.

First, I have no interest in driving people to Google for a search on attention.xml when I'm putting all my energies into AttentionTrust. Most of the hits on that search come back to me, which I assume people have already read. I'm trying to save people time, not add to their overload. That's why attention is so important, and why it doesn't need the kind of manipulative pointing that Doc surprisingly seems to suggest. Now my using the world manipulative there is a cheap shot. Sorry. So is non-manipulative.

Finally, my careful and stingy use of words and links has consistently caused me trouble with a series of editors and managers at virtually all of the trade publications I've worked for over the past 20 years. If I was trying to manipulate them, I would not choose a strategy that has gotten me fired for biting the hand that feeds me. It is a tribute to Dan Farber that, so far, he has not censored my comments on the death of the very page view model that he and others labor under. I also take comfort in reminding myself, as John Furrier did in an interview with me today, that I have been vilified as crazy for a good long time. About RSS. Now about attention. Crazy like a fox.

Oh, here's your link, Doc. It doesn't mean I don't love you. But I put it at the bottom for the minute number of people who haven't read you already.