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The blogged wandering of Robert W. Anderson

AttentionTrust != Spyware

AttentionTrust I had a good talk today with Ed Batista of the AttentionTrust today. The primary motivation was to get an update on my progress with the IE port of the AttentionTrust Recorder (or ATX). This led into a discussion about the perceptions of the Trust. I mentioned one perception in my TechCrunch 5 post. On the eve of eTech (which I won’t be attending), I thought it worth while to reiterate something about the Trust. Note, I’m no spokesmodel — look to Steve Gillmor and Ed for that.

The AttentionTrust is not spyware. This claim is either made from ignorance (willful or otherwise) or to sow FUD. The statement doesn’t even make sense because the AttentionTrust is not software. It isn’t a service. It isn’t the Attention Recorder. It is the 4 principles and the mission (they are right here for those who don’t like to click on links):


When you pay attention to something (and when you ignore something), data is created. This “attention data” is a valuable resource that reflects your interests, your activities and your values, and it serves as a proxy for your attention.

AttentionTrust and our members believe that you have the following rights:

  1. Property You own your attention and can store it wherever you wish. You have CONTROL.
  2. Mobility You can securely move your attention wherever you want whenever you want to. You have the ability to TRANSFER your attention.
  3. Economy You can pay attention to whomever you wish and receive value in return. Your attention has WORTH.
  4. Transparency You can see exactly how your attention is being used. You can DECIDE who you trust.

When you give your attention to any entity that’s an AttentionTrust member, these rights are guaranteed.


  1. Empower people to exert greater control over their “attention data,” i.e. any records reflecting what they have paid attention to and what they have ignored. We accomplish this by promoting the principles of user control, by distributing our Attention Recorder, and by supporting the development of other appropriate tools, standards and practices.
  2. Educate people about the value of their attention and the importance of attention data.
  3. Build a community of individuals and organizations that will guarantee users’ rights to own, move, and exchange their attention data, in a transparent environment that gives users the freedom to decide how their data will be used.

That’s it. The ATX (attention recorder) allows you to store locally and / or provide data to services (one right now, ROOT). Using it isn’t in any way a requirement of the AttentionTrust’s principles nor mission. The ATX also isn’t spyware. Spyware spies without your consent. The ATX records with your consent and gives you control over your own attention data.

Full stop.



    Alex Barnett blog : Record-your-own-attention toolkit wrote @ March 6th, 2006 at 9:46 pm

[…] Record-your-own-attention toolkit Now here’s an Attention data experiment. This time by J Wynia. “I’ve read several times that if they have age, sex and zip code, they can get really pretty accurate targeting to an individual. So, why is the information about me not easily available to me to glean insights from? Why can’t I follow my own trail and look back at my journey?” What he’s done is very interesting. He’s hooked the AttentionTrust recorder extension to connect to an instance of Root Vaults server that he’s running on his own webserver. He’s now recording and storing his own clickstream data in his database, which he could connect to any other service he chooses. Or not. He’s documented all this so you can try too… “After a few weeks or months, you can start digging deeper through the growing pile of data. Enjoy.” Why? Because it’s his data. And he can. – P.S Attention Trust Recorder is currently only for Firefox, but a port of the extension to IE seems to be on the way… Tags: Attention   Filed Under: Web, Tech, Attention […]

    Ed Batista wrote @ March 7th, 2006 at 12:14 pm

Thanks, Robert. You may not be a spokesperson, but you do a great job of addressing this issue, and there’s little I’d add. I just heard Felix Miller of at E-Tech, and he used the term “myware” to describe software we use to capture our own attention data. I’ve heard Seth Goldstein of Root (and a member of AttentionTrust’s Board) use the same term. The fundamental difference from “spyware” is that “myware” is completely controlled by the user, and we as individuals decide what will happen to the data recorded by our myware, who we’ll share it with and how iX

    Ed Batista wrote @ March 7th, 2006 at 12:24 pm

Well, my damn Treo is truncating my comment, so I’ll respond more fully on the AttentionTrust blog when I can get on the E-Tech network. But well said, Robert-thanks.

    Robert W. Anderson wrote @ March 7th, 2006 at 12:40 pm

Thanks, Ed. I like the term “myware”.

    Sam Sethi wrote @ March 9th, 2006 at 3:57 pm

Hi Robert

Do you know how long it will be before you have the ATX for IE7? I would love to try it out if you need a beta-tester. Also I like “myware” to help explain to permission based nature of the ATX and how it relates to me.

    Robert W. Anderson wrote @ March 9th, 2006 at 4:31 pm

Well, that is the brazillian dollar question. I’ll post my plans on this blog soon.

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