I can't believe it has been so long since my last post. I am curious how many people decided to blog more, as a new year’s resolution...
So, you are reading the blog post… and what am I simplifying today?
Today I deleted every RSS feed which contained only a tease. I will no longer be clicking through on any one line articles.
Too funny Charlie:
Two weeks ago, Attensa co-founder Eric Hayes called his company's feed synchronization system "wickedly efficient". Today NewsGator founder Greg Reinacker called his company's competing system "insanely fast".
Competition is good.
But... Everyone knows; it's better to be wicked than insane! ;-)
Finally... I can talk about this... We closed our Series B!
I find this phase of the entrepreneurial cycle exhilarating!
Nearly 5 years ago we started quietly working on attention based (we didn't call it attention) metrics and analytics, and then spent the bulk of the last 2 years focused on RSS. We reached (and passed) the point where we needed to take that next step and find an enthusiastic partner to help us reach our goals.
In the course of looking for a Series B, we met RSS Investors. It was obvious, in the first few minutes of that initial meeting, we fit together very well. I am not sure any company could be more in sync with its lead investor. We both believe subscribable information plays an immense role in the future of communication -- both for the enterprise and the individual.
Back to the exhilarating part…
In the beginnings of a startup, you usually have a modest amount of working capital. (Thanks to SmartForest, Capybara, and a few others for drinking the RSS Kool-Aid with us!) Now with our Series B round, led by RSS Investors, we are going to be able to put the pedal to the metal (Think: “How many miles can you go on 1 gallon?” vs. “What will this HEMI do, if you stomp on the gas?”). We have already been able to add amazingly talented people to our team, and have a renewed buzz of productivity our offices.
I can’t wait until we can show you what's under the hood of this great new machine!
Chris Shipley and the Guidewire Group have selected Attensa one of the BlogOn 2005 Social Media Innovators. Craig Barnes and I are heading to New York for the BlogOn 2005 conference at the Copacabana.
If you want to connect with me and Craig in New York give me a call - 503 577 2900
My neighbor thinks I’m crazy! Last year it was my relentless discussion on the wonders of RSS. He’s a smart guy, a savvy senior sales manager for a technology company. I got through and now he’s a big RSS believer (meaning he is over-subscribed). So I started in on tagging, and he said; “What the hell happened to RSS?”
“It’s all connected,” I explained. Connected and driven by our constant struggle to deal with our busy, time compressed lives, the high pressure fire hose of incoming information, our natural curiosity and the countless demands on our attention.
Tagging is a pure expression of our attention. When you add keywords (tags) to put web pages, blog posts and news in context in a social network like del.icio.us you not only create an organization structure that works for you on a personal level, you overtly join into affinity groups. This simple act opens new doors to discovery.
To encourage the adoption of tagging, the newest version of Attensa for Outlook includes tagging toolbars for Outlook and Internet Explorer that make tagging & use of your tags more user friendly. The goal, moving forward, is to make tagging an effortless byproduct of surfing or reading news.
At the moment, tagging networks like del.icio.us work because they are small and limited to the earliest of adopters. As the community grows and the power of tagging is realized by spammers and unscrupulous marketers, spamming tagging social network sites will become a new playground for insidious marketing schemes that overwhelm our attention filters.
One way to solve this problem is to set up personal privacy filters on tags. Tags don’t have to be public to work. Tags can be kept private, shared with a closed network of friends. Privacy protected tag networks can provide the collaborative benefits of a pure attention stream while making it very difficult for tag spammers to muck things up.
Another approach might combine attention stream analytics with tags to separate meaningful tags from spam tags. This could contain both a combination of the tagger’s and community’s attention streams.
In the future, I assume I will be thinking and writing about attention and tag spam often.
Not that I would normally post when someone covers us. But today on techcrunch some interesting things were said. Greg Linden of Findory.com did a great job of pointing out the difficulties in dealing with attention data in real-time. I would like to reiterate here what I commented back:
In late 2000, my team started working on an internet marketing technology designed to efficiently collect, organize, analyze, and pull metrics off of hundreds of thousands (to millions) of meta-data transactions per minute. That system was up, fast, scaled nicely, and proved its point by providing marketing lift and supplying outstanding real-time metrics without harassing the user! But… right technology, wrong time…
Today, that system (and its dozen man years of head start) is what we have based our attention streams on. The foundation of our system (client through server) is based on attention streams. We use it on the client to synchronize (and soon client side prioritization) articles among the multiple views (IE, Outlook, more…) we provide. We use it on the server side to synchronize client to server (to mobile). These efficient attention streams are what we will use (with permission and privacy protected) to aggregate users to make relevant recommendations (at the feed and article level), and add community based prioritization of your existing articles, and both timely enough to support today’s requirements.
I just read Nick Finck’s Pruning the RSS Tree post at Digital Web Magazine. In the post Nick describes his painful experience slashing his RSS feeds down from 1,171 to 465. It struck me that what he really wants is one feed - the Nick Finck feed containing only up to the minute articles that are particularly interesting to him. At the same time I was struck by my perception that most of the interest surrounding Attention and the AttentionTrust has been focused on the marketing potential of using attention data to better target content and marketing messages to consumers.
But that’s only part of the story. What’s missing from the discussion are the specifics of how focusing on Attention can help individuals alleviate some of the enormous demands on our attention by cutting through information overload. And RSS isn’t helping with the problem. In fact it’s only increasing the flow. But the end goal of RSS technology shouldn’t be based on more is good. It needs to be tightly wrapped around the promise that less is more. We need to offer our RSS consumers a drinking fountain of information, not a Fire Hose!
Every day, millions of pieces of metadata are being generated by RSS news feeds from Websites and blogs. Every RSS feed and article contains metadata that can include information about its content. RSS metadata can include information about an RSS news feed article such as the source and date of creation. It can also include information about how users are interacting with the information by tracking which specific articles are being read and which articles are being ignored or deleted. An Attention Stream is created by combining information about the content with information about how the content is being consumed. By intelligently analyzing Attention Streams, including which articles are being read or ignored by the millions of people using RSS, new possibilities emerge to prioritize and recommend higher value content for users while cutting down on useless and duplicate information.
Think of an Attention Stream as a way of noticing all of the steps you take to gather and consume information.
From the obvious things like:
Subscribing to a feed
Reading an article
Deleting a feed
Deleting an article
Deleting unread articles
Rating an article
Tagging an article
Clicking a link in an article
To the less obvious:
The time spent reading an article
Ignoring a feed or article
Deciding to have feeds available on multiple devices
Deciding to synchronize feeds and articles across devices
Clicking on update now to retrieve the latest articles from a feed
With an Attention Stream what you aren’t reading is just as important as what you are reading.
The first step is connecting the RSS user community with the right tools to gather and efficiently processes Attention Streams. RSS readers and aggregators that notice Attention Streams can be used on the desktop, in Web enabled phones and other mobile devices and can be connected through a secure online attention data aggregator that ties users together so the whole community can benefit from aggregating, triangulating and filtering Attention Streams.
At the simplest level, using an RSS reader that intelligently notices Attention Streams on desktop PCs can get the pruning process started. By intelligently analyzing both obvious and the subtle Attention Streams, articles that are more likely to be of interest can be prioritized and brought the forefront. Less interesting articles can be pruned or stored for browsing when and if time permits.
Connecting desktop and mobile devices with an online aggregator has the additional advantage of making articles available where ever the user happens to be. Elegantly synchronizing multiple devices at the article level gets rid of duplicates and eliminates the time sink of having to clean up the same subscriptions from multiple access points. And it keeps feeds and articles organized and prioritized no matter where or when they are accessed.
The real advantage of connecting Attention Streams in an online community is driven by the mysterious “Wisdom of Crowds”. By providing a secure, permission based, privacy protected environment where Attention Streams can be captured, recovered and shared, it’s possible to discover feeds and, more importantly, specific articles that friends, collogues and affinity groups are paying attention to. With the right processing techniques this can be done in near real-time to provide up-to-the-minute flow of highly relevant information that delivers on the promise that less is more.
Marc Orchant (describes his use model for reading RSS as a “palette cleansing sorbet - finish a task, sample some feeds and then move on to the next task.” Intelligently using Attention Streams can enliven the menu with “appetizers” of recommended new content from people who share an affinity with the subjects that interest you. These appetizers can lead to those wonderful accidental learning experiences that give us the all too rare ah ha moment.
Just a quick note on Attention.XML.
To that end, Tantek was kind enough to invite me to join the effort as a co-author. I am happy to be able to contribute to this effort, and hope it will make quick progress in becoming a useful standard in the RSS space!
Please feel free to take a look at the spec-in-progress, and lend a hand!
Oh yea, and as a shameless plug, i would like to say this was published, then edited (to add this comment) from outlook using Attensa for Outlook. :-)
Okay, I think 2 months between posts is long enough. :-)
Quite a bit has gone on in those 2 months!! Let me start with what has me back to the blog. Is it because I now magically have an abundance of time? NO! It stems from a great chat I had with Tom Foremski last Wednesday night at the, now famed, crazy late night Syndicate dinner party!
I told him; “I am trying to blog… but, it takes too long, and I have so much to do”. It seems I am expending way much effort on a post, worrying about it being something many people may read (and make me look stupid). Well, Tom, you are right… As no one is reading it, who cares… just post!
So, hello no one! Let me spew (for my own memory, if nothing else) about what has been going on the last bit…
* You Subscribe: RSS 0.95 has released to public preview. – As rough as this public preview is, I am happy to say, we are getting a good number of downloads & it seems to be “doing the job”
* You Subscribe: RSS 0.96 beta is out to some of you. – I am very pleased with how the publishing experience is coming along. I can’t wait to roll out the host of bug fixes and polish points to the rest of the users!
* You Subscribe Online is in beta & synchronization is working wonderfully. – I love giving the demo of reading an article on my Treo & watching Outlook respond by marking as read, or deleting an article. About half of the people I’ve shown this to have a shared reaction. They blink a few times, and then look at me, then say something like; “that is cool”, or “I could use that right now”. Fear not! It is coming soon!!
* Many good discussions at Syndicate last week (made it worth the crazy cost of a room in midtown NY).
- Made Robert Scoble sit through me demoing Synchronization (Sorry about that Robert… I get a bit intense when I talk about what we are working on).
- Had a nice couple chats with Doc Searls, Thanks for the audio of the session i missed!
- Had a nice, if short chat with Dave Panos of Pluck, and Greg Reinacker of Newsgator/Feeddemon (Yes Greg, we do include your blog/feed in our list of easy to subscribe to feeds in You Subscribe: RSS). I’ll say here, what I said there… We should work together, in the area of a shared user experience with Attention.XML!!
Well, i guess that is all for now. I'll try to post again before July. -e