APML: For the two kinds of attention that we pay

by Marianne Richmond on October 1, 2006

Two kinds of people in the world speculation is a favorite of mine. Recently, I mentioned it in the context of user generated content: users and generators or uploaders and freeloaders. More recently, after blogging that Whirlpool had conducted a survey to find out that it was really the designation folder or washer that defined Americans, Ann Handley of the Daily Fix commented that she was also a two kinds buff.

Chris Saad, one of the founders of Touchstone said in a recent chat that there are two kinds of people in the world, those who are overwhelmed by web based news and therefore don’t follow it and those that do but are saturated by it. This was in the context of a discussion about Touchstone’s Attention Profiling Mark Up Language, or in the easier to remember vernacular for non-geeks, APML.

APML and Touchstone’s beta attention profiler address my other favorite topic, aka my biggest challenge, paying attention and information overload. And of course, I know I am not alone in this challenge; it is pervasive. It is discussed by Kathy Sierra and Howard Rheingold as multi-tasking and by Linda Stone as continuous partial attention; Dave Pollard writes about attention and appreciation.

Richard Saul Wurman’s Information Anxiety2 eloquently captures the overwhelming amount of non-information that we are bombarded with and notes that what we need are the tools to give it meaning; and here is where the hammer hits the nail: "learning can be seen as the acquisition of information but before it can take place, there must be interest." There are two kinds of information in the world, that which you are interested in and that which you are not.

Enter, APML. APML addresses the pain of being overwhelmed by data that is not relevant to you. Here is the announcement that will be released tomorrow:

Today Faraday Media (Creators of Touchstone) announce a new initiative to work with the community in order to design and implement “Attention Profiling Mark-up Language” or APML.

APML will allow users to export and use their own personal Attention Profile in much the same way that OPML allows them to export their reading lists from Feed Readers.

The idea is to boil down all forms of Attention Data – including Browser History, OPML, Attention.XML, Email etc – to a portable file format containing a description of ranked user interests.

Imagine being able to export your Attention Profile from Amazon and plugging it into Digg to get an instantly customized view of the top Digg stories most relevant to your interests.

We anticipate that an ecosystem of technologies can begin to write and consume the format and we are taking the lead with Touchstone’s U-AR and I-AM engines.

We look forward to working with everyone in the community to ensure the format delivers on this promise and empowers users to take control of their Attention.

Find out more about U-AR and I-AM at www.touchstonelive.com/technology

Find out more about APML at www.apml.org

Check out the Touchstone (almost) Beta. And the Touchstone Manifesto.

 In my opinion, something is not a good idea unless it can be explained by a Venn diagram.This is what I love about APML. The two kinds of attention that we pay? Attention with meaning and that without.

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