AttentionTrust

Came across this interesting non-profit organization called

When you pay attention to something (and when you ignore something), data is created. This “attention data” is a valuable resource that reflects your interests, your activities and your values, and it serves as a proxy for your attention.

AttentionTrust and our members support the following Principles regarding users’ control of attention data, and we invite you to join us in supporting these Principles by applying for AttentionTrust membership:

  1. Property

    You own your attention and can store it wherever you wish.

  2. Mobility

    You can securely move your attention wherever you want whenever you want to.

  3. Economy

    You can pay attention to whomever you wish and receive value in return.

  4. Transparency

    You can see exactly how your attention is being used.

To capture the attention data they have a browser plug-in that creates and stores click-stream data of your web activity. Users then have the option to either store this data on a local drive or put in an on-line “vault”. The “vault” service is provided by 4 different organizations (users can choose) that are approved by AttentionTrust.org. The idea behind these vault services is that it aggregates data and provide a platform, to other for-profit companies to come up with interesting personalized services for users. The users always controls the data and can release it to any service provider they find interesting. Its a really cool idea but I am having a difficult time imagining the kinds of useful services that can be provided to an individual by accessing their attention data. Still, this is a neat idea for enabling much needed research in the users browsing behavior, of course with user consent.

One of the other issues with the overall idea is how can users prevent companies from accessing potentially important or embarassing information from such logs? The attention recorder browser plug-in has a button to disable recording click-stream data but in my experience I found the button hard to use and remember (not that I was visiting any naughty sites :-)). I also looked at the data that attention recorder collected by looking into the XML file and did not find any data related to movement of the mouse…I don’t even know if that is feasible, but one of the things I do when I am reading (not scanning) a web page is follow my eye focus with my mouse movements. So the mouse movements on the browser might be interesting data to gather. The point here is that web browing data is so private (as evidenced by AOL search terms release fiasco) that there are a number of potential landmines here.

Another issue is how AttentionTrust can guarantee that one of these service providers are not going to misuse the information? Some other interesting liks to follow up for more information:

Attention Wiki

Attention Architecture

All-in-all an interesting idea that will develop with time. Thoughts?

Update: Upon further reflection, some of the services that could be made available will be similar to time-share deals in Las Vegas. The idea is that if you sit through a demo for an hour or so of targetted advertizing and you are rewarded for that attention. AttentionTrust provides a verfication mechanism for validating that time spend.

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