Things that chew up my attention

  1. Keeping My iPod updated
  2. Paying for my gas, (No! I don’t want to buy a car wash, No! I don’t want a receipt, Do I ever choose anything but 87 octane)
  3. Buying anything at CDW.com (But I still love the company)
  4. Television (I know I need tivo, heck I need digital cable)
  5. The weirdness that is Google reader (Love, hate. aaahh!)
  6. Link wandering (I have found great stuff but it takes forever)
  7. My corporate calendar (no mobile integration)
  8. Ubuntu, switch and you will know what I mean (Mac here I come, as soon as I save my pennies)

More on Attention efficiency

The opportunity I see (not the only one) in the attention portion of the cognitive economy, resides in the creation of applications that reduce the amount of attention we have to spend doing meaningless or redundant stuff. If you run a business think about how much time a customer has to spend to complete a transaction with your company. Here is an example:

When you open a bank account why doesn’t the bank identify your preferred language on your ATM card. Better yet, the bank could set your default language based on the language you selected in the first 5 transactions. A simple attention efficiency.

The opportunities are endless and range from simple to infinitely complex. In complex and competitive markets attention efficiencies are powerful differentiators. Companies continue to think about the relationships with their customers in very traditional terms. The future is building systems and applications that allow customer to exchange information in return for future attention. Think of attention as currency, it’s always great when we get more for less money.

Attention OS and The Cognitive Economy my thoughts

In roughly 50 lines of text Steve Gillmor roughs out the Attention OS. The article has triggered many thoughts, so I will just lay them out in a series of posts.

The Cognitive economy is based on value created by individuals powered by a cognitive suite of tools, services, repositories and raw computing power (includes the attention os). To create pools of value that are sufficient to sustain an economy, there will have to be:

  • Attention consumers that continually respect an individual’s usage policies and permissions.
  • Attention providers that share very similar usage policies and permissions.
  • A standard way of describing and communicating attention usage policies and permissions

For example, there are many French world cup soccer fans, but they may not have the same usage policies and permissions for their attention data and gestures. Some fans may restrict the use of their attention data to French companies only. Another set of French world cup soccer fans may have their attention data and gestures governed by more restrictive government statute. So the challenge becomes creating a constellation of French world cup soccer fans that allow their attention data and gestures to used in the same way for a similar result. The consumer of attention and gesture data will be required to be very aware of the current disposition of its constellation of attention providers. The attention consumer must also continuously update and reform the constellation based on changes in the change in provider policies and permissions.

More to follow.

The Attention lease and The Attention Investment Trust

The idea is similar to an infrastructure lease (Cities use it to create revenue from roads and such. Think the Chicago sky way). We as individuals formalize the capture of our attention data with a lease. We exclusively lease our attention to a Attention Investment Trust (AIT similar to a REIT) in return for shares. The trust then invests our attention on our behalf and then returns payment in the form of dividends or appreciated value of our shares. This would allow people to formalize control over their attention data in a efficient way. It would require only limited amounts of time researching the reputation, goals, and track record of the AIT. If the trust does not perform the person can sell their shares and revoke their authorization to use their attention.

I’m no finance guy, but I have met a few and I know that they could throw something together in a heart beat. Imagine if Google, yahoo and Amazon had to buy your attention on the Chicago mercantile Exchange (offered by AITs), like Southwest buys fuel. That would change the game, good or bad it’s just an example of the many opportunities around attention.

Cognitive Economy: The role of Attention

In the cognitive economy the role of attention is primarily that of an abstract currency. Attention (in all of its forms) like Dollars, Euros and Pounds will have a value that is ubiquitous and easily measured by all parties. Markets can be created (think something like Root Markets) to speculate upon and trade attention. In the early stages of the cognitive economy attention exchange will be the primary source of revenue for all parties.

An interesting thing about attention is, as a currency it requires more collaborative valuation and regulation processes. Traditionally currency is created, regulated, and valued by a centralized authority and its designated markets. The fact that attention is created and valued in a distributed system by individuals, means there will be no one regulatory body to control it. This in my opinion is both a strength and weakness of attention.

Some strengths of attention are:

  • it allows for a very customizable valuation model, depending on the parties involved and the context.
  • flexible transaction structures and terms.
  • it retains value over time.
  • it can be traded multiple times.
  • it is highly portable.
  • is independant of borders and governments (this is not completely true, think China and the middle east).
  • its supply is only limited by our imaginations and our time on this earth.

Some weaknesses of attention are:

  • an individual can have control of their attention co-opted by third parties.
  • value models can poisoned and manipulated by monopolies and governments.
  • it can be shared without authorization.
  • one can be overwhelmed with the amount created and its complexity.

Some day we will have to claim on our tax returns the value received from exchanging our attention since most of the value will be in a non-traditional form (not dollars).

We as individuals must work to assert control over our attention, it’s our currency. The Attention Trust is a non-profit organization whose mission is to help the individual own and benefit from their attention. So, if you want understand more about attention and your rights go to www.attentiontrust.org and look around. (disclosure: I am member of the Attention Trust)

Links:

Root Markets

The Attention Trust:
Mission
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