ETech: Seth Goldstein

Seth Goldstein spoke at ETech on his Root Markets startup, a company focused on building a marketplace for attention data. What follows is a rough transcription of his talk, my apologies in advance for any inaccuracies.

Seth Goldstein from Root Networks at ETech, 7 March 2006

I’m goign to show you attention in motion, real time, more or less. Root is an attention exchange. A lot of these ideas were stimulated and inspired by the time that myself and my colleagues spent at ETech last year. It’s been a great 365 days.

I’ll start with definitions. Web 2.0 I’d like to describe as Attention 1.0. That’s the stage we’re moving into, moving through, as evident by everyone here and the great applications bieng shown. Question is: is attention about money or is attention about time? In case you couldn’t tell by the clothes, I’m from New York. We focus on the money. We leave time to San Francisco and the west.

There’s the focus on combatting ADHD, and there’s the focus on securing and commercializing it, which is what we’re working on. Is it a privacy challenge or is it a publicity opportunity? There’s been a lto of talk about attention-privacy, attention-privacy. As you see from the pioneering, it’s about sharing your attention.

Great quyote from Michael Goldfarber, the Einstein of Attention. “The best guarantee for attention is living your life as openly as possible, expressing yourself as publicly as possible as early as possible.” Information attracts attention: to get attention, you need to give information. Receiving information makes you influential. There’s a definition we came to that suggests that influence is the amount of attention you get relative to the amount of attention you give.

People can receive attention even when they’re not there. If you’re reading a Thomas Hardy book, Thomas Hardy is receiving attention even though he’s long gone. That goes through his reputation, his fame, etc.

At the macro level, why attention now? Because web servicecs have enabled the recording and sharing of attention choices in real-time. The fact that we have these open and somewhat open APIs lets all this data and metadata be routed through these many systems.

We see Root as an open exchange for the attention economy. PPA = Promise to Pay Attention. Not CPM or CPC. In a way we’re all promising to pay attention each other when we put something on the calendar, we promise to pay attention to advertisers. PAAs form attention bonds because there’s an economic context and a social context. You have an attention bond when you promise to watch your son’s soccer game. If you don’t show up there are consequences. if you default, your reputation will suffer. The attention economy is one of the few things we have.

Why is this relevant to Wall Street? Because they can be pooled, securitized, traded. Just like wall street turned mortgage payment promises into a trillion $ CMO market. Mortgage bonds made housing affordable for all, so what will attention bonds do for us?

How are you spending attention? What time is it? Where are you located? Who are you with? What are you watching? What are you clickign on? What are you searchin gfor? Who are you emailing? Who are you chatting with? Who are you calling? What are you buying? Your attention is valuable.

An impression is $.001, a click is $.75-$20, an email address is $1, a mortgage lead is $25, an army application is $2,000+. Who do you pay attention to? People, interesting content, relevant feeds, valuable offers, relevant advice. Who do you want to keep attention from? Distractions, companies sometimes, advertisers usually, flashing banners, strangers, etc. Coopting, stealing your attention. Spam, data brokers, new items, etc.

Who owns this data? You do. If you don’t own it outright, you should own a copy that has higher fidelity than any other company can get. One seminal moment for me was a conversation with Jeff Bezos here last year, saying “my Amazon purchase history, who owns that seven years of my book purchases?” He thought about it and said, “we both own a copy”. Amazon doesn’t have to make it easy for me to get access to my purchase history, but over time I want a copy of all that.

Attention trust was founded by a great board of directors. Looking to enlarge it, focused on four basic principles: property, mobility, economy, transparency [unsure I got those right].

Root Vault is a place to send your attention data, what makes me me and you you.

Input: send attention to Root Vault as clickstream, through browser extension.
Store: dashboard for your clicktrail.

While you could go into your browser history but the alchemy is when you can do it automatically, when you do your thing and over time, behind the scenes, it starts to bring this information back to you and allows you to recycle and refine and optimize the attention that you produce.

Exchange: I want to know you are paying attention to, without you paying attention to me. The PG version is The X version is What gets surfaced is that two people share interests, what they differ, when the others browse. Check out other people based on their attention.

Delete: have to be able to delete all your data from our server, move it somehwere else. We’re not going to stop. Here to evangelize development opportunities: APIs for people to build interesting mashups and APIs on top of it. R0ml will talk tomorrow and describes his challenge as “a system to manage large numbers of small and differentiated databases. The design objective is to effectively manage a million different databases, each with a different schema.”