Creating User Value from Collecting, Analyzing and Managing Attention

Attentionpict_2 I’ve been watching the evolution of Touchstone and Root Markets as they carve out their position in the emerging "Attention Economy".  Both Chris and Seth have been thought-leaders and have helped shape how our individual attention is used, protected and managed.   I was reminded of an earlier post by Josh Porter.

From June 2006:

Josh takes the current conversation on Attention one step further – to the Edge of Attention.  I agree with Josh. While there is value in understanding where we spend our time, real value is created by managing and deciding what is most important.  What I decide warrants my valuable time and attention.   It is not just about tracking attention, it is about allocating attention.   Josh sites Cambridge company Element 55 as an example of a company that helps users track and control how they spend their time.   From Josh’s post:

"Perhaps you’ve heard of Attention with a capital A? It’s the notion that in an increasingly content-packed world made up of TV, radio, newspapers, web sites, podcasts, RSS feeds, and email that we could, in theory, record everything we pay attention to and then it would be worth something or provide us value in some way. Following this idea we should be in control of it instead of advertisers who pay ever more money to learn as much as they can about us, even without our knowledge. Attention is flipping that model on its head. We know about us, pay us for that information and you can advertise to us.

But it’s not just about advertising. It’s also about what I’m really interested in: recommendation systems. Basically, recommendation systems are systems that record what we pay attention to in order to provide recommendations to us. Think recommending books to us based on our past purchases and recommending music to us based on our listening habits. Those are great examples of specialized attention recorders that record only a sliver of what we pay attention to. (an important sliver, but a small one nonetheless)"   more

Using Touchstone to manage how I allocate attention and Attention Trust / Root Markets to protect the value of my attention enable users to flip the Attention Economy in our favor.   

So one question that comes to mind is "How could enterprise users benefit from attention management and see economic reward for their attention?"


  1. Hi Bruce,
    People often ask us if Touchstone can be used in the Enterprise.
    Our answer is that Touchstone is a product for people, and an Enterprise is made up of people.
    If learning what people care about through analyzing their Attention data allows you to filter and prioritize things for them it only makes sense you that you can help them be better informed and more productive.
    Better informed, more productive people inside an Enterprise is surely a good thing – both for happy workers and a healthier bottom line.
    There are other implications of aggregating Attention data for managers to get a sense of who and what people are spending their time on – but I think our job at Touchstone is to empower the user, not the manager. We always be on the end-user’s side – whether its fighting information overload from publishers or fighting breaches of privacy from those who wish to spy on our habits.
    Helping the manager view attention data conjures up all sorts of ethical dilemmas we’d like to avoid.

  2. First, congrats on Touchstone. Great work!
    I agree with you that the value of attention management should be centered on the individual user.
    So in the case of Enterprise users, enabling them to analyze and prioritize how their attention is allocated is powerful and will improve productivity.
    In the last sentence of my post, I was wondering how my attention data gets managed, filtered, secured when I am both a consumer and enterprise user. As an individual I want to see both seamlessly integrated. But how might my enterprise use be leveraged across my collaboration teams at work and in conjunction with other collaboration and collective intelligence apps?

  3. Hi Bruce – sorry for the delay in getting back.
    Thanks for the congrats – hopefully we can help make people’s lives easier and make them happy!
    With our APML file format (which is the format that stores your attention profile – you can learn more at we support profiles.
    Profiles might let you switch from ‘Work Interests’ to ‘Home Interests’ quickly.
    The next step would be a service that lets you synchronize your APML files from home to work and back again.
    The same brokerage service could let you sync your APML file to other apps as well.

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