TAG: Attention

Monetize This!

Martin Lamonica’s piece Making Web 2.0 Pay is indicative of the growing concern among Web watchers, venture capitalists, and other interested techies who are worried how to monetize the amazing innovative period we’re in. However, I think his piece, though illuminating, is exactly the type of thing that developers should run away from immediately because it focuses on the problem of making money at the industry level, and not the level that matters: the level of your individual users.

In his piece Martin discusses issues like making money via mashups, building to flip, and commodity office applications and points to several reasons for the new boom:

  1. High-speed internet connections
  2. Ajax
  3. APIs
  4. Cheap startup costs

So Lamonica’s point is that it is simply easier to create now. These seem like very reasonable factors for the new companies and products we’re seeing. However, simply having the means doesn’t really lead to innovation…but solving someone’s problem in a better way does. So in addition to technology-related reasons, I would add a couple more factors to Lamonica’s list, including two that can directly lead to solving people’s problems…

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On Intention

Doc Searls on his new idea: the Intention Economy:

“In The Intention Economy, the buyer notifies the market of the intent to buy, and sellers compete for the buyer’s purchase. Simple as that.”

The whole piece is excellent.

Familiarity in the Recommendosphere

Daring Fireball‘s John Gruber makes a great point in his recent post: Familiarity Breeds a User Base

In referencing Joshua Micah Marshall’s two reasons for not using a Mac (despite admitting that he’s heard great things about them), Gruber suggests that we underestimate the power of familiarity. He says:

“But the reasons behind his (Marshall’s) reluctance to switch are eminently reasonable, or, if not quite reasonable, understandable. He’s a political nerd, not a computer nerd, but he’s cobbled together enough knowledge about Windows and PC hardware that he’s comfortable knowing he can get his work done with them, and that when things go wrong, that he can probably fix them.”

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The Long Tail of Popularity

Update: Simplified the beginning…

In his 2005 Les Blogs presentation Doc Searls, in his explanation of what blogs are and what they are not, suggested that:

“We are all authors of each other.”

What exactly does Doc mean by this? Does he mean that we author other people’s lives, and they ours, whether or not we want them to? Or could it mean something more optimistic, that we author each other gladly?

Then there’s the problem of popularity. How does popularity fit into the idea that we all author each other? Don’t popular things help shape us, too? Do the voices that add up to popularity author us in the aggregate?

Popularity is maligned as much as any attribute known to man. If you are popular, you are probably not worth paying attention to. It’s as if we are saying: “You already have too much attention, and I’m not going to give you more.”

But I think there is much more to popularity than unwarranted attention.

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On Googlemendations

Noah Brier, in Capturing Attention:

“When you get right down to it, Google is a giant recommendation engine.”

Gillmor’s Theory of Everything (podcast)

About half an hour into our podcast with Steve Gillmor:

Attention Podcast with Steve Gillmor, Joshua Porter and Alex Barnett (58 min 14MB) (Alex’s notes)

it became clear to me that Steve’s ideas on attention aren’t just a view from 50,000 feet. No, it’s more like a view from space, where you see a butterfly tapping its wings in Borneo and visualize the tsunami that might occur in Cuba – three years later. RSS, Attention, and Gestures, Steve’s three muses, are not just cogs in a nice little theory he’s working with to explain why he’s having trouble keeping up with all the information he wants to read. Instead, this is Gillmor’s Theory of Everything.

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The Most Important Statistic of them All

The most important statistic on the Web in the last year is the one delivered in a NYTimes article last week: Like This? You’ll Hate That. (Not All Web Recommendations Are Welcome.) [behind paywall :( ]. The statistic involves media, technology, and the ever-increasing burden on our collective attention.

Here it is: 2/3 of Netflix rentals come from recommendations.

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On Attention Problems

Alex Barnett:

“The idea that only geeks – and not the ‘average’ people – want to have a more effecient way of finding content that matches their interests seems way off to me.”

Help…My Attention is Dead!

I had a great conversation with Merlin Mann, Thomas Vander Wal, and Fred Oliviera today about our collective lack of attention. Most of us had relatively sophisticated ways of dealing with it, from outright getting on the wagon and shutting off the feed firehose completely to tweaking our software to only allow access at certain times. Interestingly, one of the things that we all did was to set our email readers to only fetch mail about once per hour.

Most discussions I’ve had lately are about this lack of attention. It’s getting to the point where people are going on “content diets” to lose the drinking-from-a-firehose feeling, just like they go on food diets to lose weight.

My problem is not email, not spam, not chat. It’s reading feeds. I’m simply overwhelmed. I’ve gotten to the point where I skim for only those things that meet the following criteria:

  • Big, new idea
  • An idea that immediately builds on one I’m already comfortable with

If an idea doesn’t meet these criteria, then I filter it out. I simply can’t read those longer, thoughtful posts by people I’m not familiar with. And even those people who I know and are familiar with get filtered out if I can’t see value in the headline or first sentence. The downside to this is that I have less time for thoughtful repose, and less time to really consider some of the more subtle points someone is making. I went on vacation recently and I read two whole books (books are a paper medium on which words are printed in pages and bound by cloth covered cardboard), and loved every minute of it.

So I’m interested in hearing about your attention problems? Got any good or interesting tips for dealing with it?

Microsoft Didn’t Give User Data to DOJ in Privacy Case (podcast)

First, the podcast: Microsoft, Google, and the DOJ Privacy Case (7.21 MB mp3 )

During a meeting today at the Microsoft Search Champs Conference in Redmond, WA, Yusuf Mehdi, Senior VP of MSN Information Services, discussed the recent blowup involving the U.S. Government’s subpoena of personal information from major Search Engines including MSN, Yahoo, Google, and AOL. This was not the first time that the U.S. Government has requested information from corporations in this manner. It was, however, one of the most talked about, spurred on by a press release from Google, who announced that they had turned down the request. Soon after, it was revealed that both Yahoo and MSN has complied with it, casting an instant shadow over those companies. In response, Ken Moss, general manager of MSN web search, provided a few relevant details of the case on the MSN Search Blog.

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