Archive for O’Reilly

15 Minute Keynotes

Being in the conference business I naturally pay attention to what other conferences do. The back-to-back 15-30 minute keynotes at ETech were great – I can’t remember the last time I actually sat through an entire morning of “keynotes”. One downside though is that speakers are not used to this and some are unhappy about it and spend an awful lot of their valuable 15 minutes talking about how they are not going to say something because they only have 15 minutes.

The Attention Economy

Lot’s of talk about ‘attention’ here at ETech. Thinking of attention in terms of economics is fascinating and thought provoking, but I have not quite got the essence of the excitement – just saw Tim Bray who also said he was not sure he got it, and everyone at my lunch table squirmed and then said they didn’t get it either.
The last thing I want is someone managing or making money or even knowing about my attention allocation. I don’t mind some – I am not averse to sharing certain preferences and behavior – but it is mine to share or not, and mine to monetize or not. As a consumer, what is the return? I get more personalized ads? I get stats on my own behavior? I get more people and advertisers paying attention to me? I definitely am not yet interested in making it easier for others to try to influence me based on some attempt at interpreting my activity/interest – is this a matter of not just being good enough at it yet? Maybe.
Will Attention Trust make a difference? I don’t know.
I understand that some people have more intense desires to communicate everything they think and do and will buy into attention for that, but surely that is an edge group…?
Attention and its scarcity and therefore value are important to pay attention to when deveoping products or businesses – but it is not all in the user’s interest.
UPDATE:
Listened to Michael Goldhaber’s talk on the economy today at ETech. He’s the one who everyone quotes. Interesting talk, but I still don’t get it. I suppose the desire for attention might be as rational as the desire for money (although I hope not – it doesn’t seem as practical, you can’t simply bank attention over time without its value diminishing). Trading in “attention bonds” as Seth Goldstein wants, is a bit scary in that it depends on people who don’t think they get enough attention!? I thought Seth’s talk was the most enlightening on the topic.
UPDATE 2:
And this will be it for the updates. See Jon Udell’s and Doc Searls’ comments on this.

Continuous Partial Attention

Linda Stone is talking about “continuous partial attention” a phrase she coined in 97 or 98. What is it? It is what I am doing right now, paying partial attention to Linda talking, partial to writing this blog entry, partial to those sitting around me rustling papers or not, I am also interspersing all this with thoughts of lunch, what session I will attend this afternoon, und so weiter …. We all do it.
It is not surprising. It is the way the brain has always worked (well at least for a while – remember all those cognitive science experiments in the 70s) – it is now just more explicit and we are getting better at it. Or at least some of us are; as much as I do it my daughter leaves me in the dust.
Apparently Linda has seen a backlash about the idea, but, as she said, “…continuous partial attention isn’t bad or good – it just is.”
Just as technologies are only tools that can be used for good or bad, our brain hardware can also be used for better or worse, to help or hinder. Our brain functions can be mis-used just like technology. As we get better with continuous partial attention, the result can be beneficial or rude. (e.g., easier to be rude and interrupt when you feel like it – it is not always OK) we have to learn the ethics as well as the efficiencies.
There are also some interesting challenges for product development. There are different tolerances for multi-processing, and these change even within one human unit, e.g., when you are tired vs. alert.

ETech

I’m not much of a live blogger, but I am at O’Reilly’s ETech conference, (which has already been well worth the trip), and others are covering it just fine without any help from me – for example Ray Ozzie’s talk on O’Reilly’s Radar.