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Omidyar Network Pays Attention


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March 17, 2006

Omidyar Network Pays Attention

Rob Hof

I'm trying to get educated on the concept that our attention online is a valuable commodity that we can and should be able to take control of--even get compensated for by companies tapping into it. But I admit I'm still trying to figure out exactly what it all means and how it will work. Apparently I'm not alone.

Maybe it will help that the notion has now captured the attention, as it were, of people with money. At an SDForum panel on the topic tonight, ROOT Markets CEO Seth Goldstein mentioned that Omidyar Network, eBay founder and Chairman Pierre Omidyar's mission-oriented investing group, will put a "substantial" sum into Attention Trust, which aims to give people more control of our Web travels--that is to say, our attention. I have a feeling that the many companies that profit from our attention, from Google and Yahoo to many a Web 2.0 startup, will be watching carefully.

01:23 AM

Web 2.0, attention

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First thought: weird. Later, scary. But seems a sort of parallel to the identity thing ( see Dick http://www.identity20.com/media/WEB2_2005/ ) in an attempt to break out of sites as silos and wander around with a universal history and identity pack anchored to us somehow.

For reasons I can't quite make explicit in my own lack of disposable attention, the thought of that creeps me out. An American thing maybe, thinking I'm all individualistic and unique or something.

Posted by: dg at March 17, 2006 10:16 AM

hi rob -

i think the real "attention" discussion is getting buried in geekspeak / elite academic characterizations.

the basics as far as i'm concerned as to what 'attention' is:

- a set of defined user interests (passive or active)

- the user's online "view stream" history & online behavior

- the user's purchase transaction history, across merchants/sites

- other related deep demographic user profiling

- the social network(s) of other users that any user interacts with and/or shares interests with

in short, "attention" is a broad, cross-site, deep demographic profile of user behavior. in other words, cookies on steroids.

however, the issues i think everyone (root & attention trust included) are trying to understand are not simple:

- how to make it simple to acquire/record all this data

- how to get broad adoption of tools for the average "joe sixpack" to use them

- how to encourage larger players (GOOG, MSFT, YHOO, EBAY, AMZN, etc) to participate in the process

- where is this data stored, and what privacy issues are there in enabling / protecting access

- what role does gov't (US or other) and current privacy / marketing standards play in this effort

- how to monetize this data, and who pays who for what in any of this

- etc etc

root & attention are attempting to make the case that a small sample of data is enough to provide predictive capabilities (aka Nielsen sampling) and "market-making" mechanisms for "securitizing attention"... translation: a reasonable sample of geeky users can provide insight into valuing lead-gen activities for transaction providers.

other "attention providers" might provide similar data & predictive capabilities for other services such as content or audio or video media, other ecommerce transactions, or online behavior in general.

however, user adoption, big gorilla data hoarding, and user privacy issues may make some of this a big challenge to figure out.

in any case, we'll keep paying attention to attention ;)

- dave mcclure

www.simplyhired.com

Posted by: Dave McClure at March 17, 2006 01:12 PM


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