In the car on the way to school (pre-K camp) this morning, my 4.5 year old Ella asked me what "serious" meant. I asked her what the context was. She haltingly indicated that it was something someone on the DVD player was saying; i.e. I'm serious. I asked her what she thought it meant. She said, "He means he's not kidding."
That's how I feel about attention, and attentiontrust.org, the foundation that Seth Goldstein and I have been developing with an ever-widening group of associates, interested parties, and draftees. I met Seth in passing at a Susan Mernit-orchestrated conference months ago, and at ETech in March, he walked up and said, "You're Steve Gillmor, Mr. Attention." As I soon learned, so is he.
Over the next few months, we met at various venues--a Yellow Pages conference in the Valley, in New York with his team of Internet gurus, once and future partners, and his doppleganger brother Jonas, and via IM, cell and email. Eventually our dialogue hardened into a plan: he asked me to become President of attentiontrust.org. After several attempts at saying no, I realized the futility of that approach. Secretly I was delighted. Here was someone who took me seriously.
The way he asked me was this: "What do you want to do when you grow up?" A tough but fair question, one that I am asking all of you. Are we willing to take our time seriously, to live each moment as though it might be our last? That may be too draconian for some, but at a minimum I can't afford to waste time. Seth challenged me. The Attention Trust is meant to challenge you--and anyone who takes your attention for granted.
I've been writing about RSS and attention for so long that I'm starting to repeat myself, a sure sign of the difficulty in avoiding wasting your time. So we jumped the gun and put up this site with the help of some brilliant folks who gathered a week ago and contributed their ideas and talents to rough out the basics. I asked, no, pinned Hank Barry down to take the role of Secretary; Hank had suggested the idea of a foundation in the first place. Seth and I fanned out to corral the rest of the initial board: Seth as Chairman, Nick Bradbury, Dick Costolo, and Clay Shirky. And I asked Mary Hodder to chair the Advisory Board and develop its goals and structure.
Later today, Seth will join the Gillmor Gang to talk more about attention and our intentions. Already the quality of the conversation about attention has deepened, both in private email exchanges and in feedback from our admittedly premature and sketchy efforts. We're asking for a leap of faith here, and I always check for my wallet when someone says "trust me." But we're choosing our words--and our friends--carefully, and we're not kidding.