I have taken the long 4th weekend to process Steve Gillmor’s idea of an Attention OS. I should have it all processed soon but my brain is hurting. So far all I can say is, Steve that must have been one heck of a dream. More to follow.
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.
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:
Some weaknesses of attention are:
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)
The Cognitive economy is not
I have been thinking real hard about the Attention economy and then about the Intention economy. In the past I have written about the Situational Awareness economy and online cognitive models, well I think I was in the right neighborhood. I think the economic revolution before us is the Cognitive Economy. The Cognitive economy revolves around memory, attention, perception, action, problem solving. It will be the businesses, organizations, services and people that build value around those key components that will be sucessful in the long term. Now in some ways this is a No Duh moment.
I have to give the folks at Flickr credit for their competitor API position. I have been in heated discussions dealing with the openness of systems. In my experience there exists a group of people that fear losing something (Take your pick: money, customers, advantage, IP etc..) because of being open. My response to that group of people is that which you fear losing was never yours to lose.
In Flickr’s case, the images, tags, relationships, and comments are simply on loan from their customers. Flickr’s willingness to respect the customers ownership over those attention artifacts is only going to strengthen their position.
Additionally, I think the quid pro quo approach by Flickr is reasonable but not necessary. I subscribe to the belief that attention is symmetrical. Flickr by paying attention to their customers needs will only receive more attention from their customers, resulting in less attention for their competitors.
I have had multiple conversations about the recent format change on the Gillmor Gang, most feedback being critical of the changes. I have been a regular listener for sometime now. When The Earthlink commercials started I gladly reviewed the services from earthlink. Then Godaddy.com joined the rotation and I reviewed their services and bought some domains using one of the Gang codes. I consider myself a loyal listener who has paid his respect in person, via iTunes subscription, via RSS subscription, via sponsor patronage and via recommendation.
The challenge is dealing with the repetitive nature of the commercials. I do at times skip past the commercials, if I can free myself from driving. The weird thing is I don’t really want to skip the commercials because I want to support the Gillmor Gang in a real way. If its just the same sponsors and same commercials over and over, I’m stuck until I need more domains.
I understand and support the fact that Steve Gillmor and the Gang deserve to reap benefit from their creativity and hard work. I also understand that there may be a limited number of sponsors available. I think the podcaster, sponsor, listener system needs a mechanism to create incentives for passive listeners to become active listeners(Something like this might already exist). These incentives could come in many forms here are just a few:
In the end all I know for sure is this; I enjoy the Gillmor Gang and other podcasts. The podcasts that create more unique incentives for me to become an active listener are going to get the most valuable pieces of my attention.
The Gillmor Gang RSS Feed
So I just thought I would list out where some of my attention data is stored, definitely not an exhaustive list and not in any order. This list just screams opportunities for attention efficiency, forget paying me for my attention data just let me be more efficient with it.
Where is your attention data stored?
I invite you to create your own lists in the comments section or trackback your list. I am interested to see where all our attention data goes.
James Govenor refers to Attention as being:
like, all about being “popular”, which is fine if you’re in high school in Santa Monica but is really no basis for living.
An excerpt from Wikipedia on popularity:
General popularity usually involves respect in two directions: the popular person is respected by his peers, and will simultaneously show them respect, thus reinforcing their belief that he is deserving of his popularity.
This reciprocal nature of interpersonal popularity is often overlooked by people (particularly the young) who are attempting to become popular
From The End by The Beatles:
in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make
The currency of popularity is respect and attention is a type of respect. In terms of living one’s life attention is extremely valuable. Where someone places their attention is all about living, anyone one with children understands the reciprocal nature of attention.
The attention you get is equal to the attention you give.
Wikipedia on Popularity