NewsGator NewsCast

Wow – we’ve been so busy that I didn’t even notice NewsGator’s NewsCast had been announced. This service enables bloggers to permit their content to be re-syndicated by our Private Label Platform.

What’s interesting to me about this is that NewsCast is opt-in – we’re not going to re-syndicate your work without your permission. I think this is important, since I’ve seen similar services which re-syndicate feeds without the author’s approval. If you’re a blogger and you’d like to take advantage of this service, you can find out more about it here.

Related to this, it’s also interesting to see feed syndication continue to break out of the aggregator. More and more sites are displaying posts from bloggers next to articles written by professional journalists, which is quite a change from the world of print syndication. You can include me among those who see this as a good thing. IMO, more bloggers should figure out how they can exist side-by-side with the “mainstream media” instead of thinking they can replace it.

My Blog is Boring

My nephew Tommy says that my blog has become boring lately. He’s right, of course – my posts have become less frequent and less interesting over the past few months, but that’s normal for me. When I’m working on a new version of my software, I focus almost exclusively on coding and let my blog stagnate. So I figure my blog should pick up now that FeedDemon 2.0 is out.

Of course, the surest sign that your blog is boring is when you write about blogging, so perhaps there’s no hope after all.

Sticking up for my friends

I normally try to avoid getting into public battles, but today I need to make an exception. Yesterday Rogers Cadenhead blogged about a letter sent to him by Dave Winer’s attorney, which caused a bit of an uproar in RSS circles. I honestly have no idea who is right or wrong in this case, and I’ve never had a reason to distrust Rogers, so I’m not going to take sides in this issue. But I was truly bothered by the number of comments made before Dave had given his side of the story. How can anyone possibly take sides when only one side has made their case? The mob mentality shown here, in a word, sucks, and shows why the blog world is no better than mainstream media when it comes to fact-checking.

Also, Steve Gillmor has recently made a couple of rambling posts that suggest he’s not exactly happy with the goings-on in the world of attention. For the record, Steve, you’re the person who introduced me (and certainly countless others) to the idea of attention, and I’ll always give you credit for your pioneering role, no matter how cranky you get.

AttentionTrust.org

Last week saw the launch of AttentionTrust.org, a non-profit hatched by Seth Goldstein, Steve Gillmor and Hank Barry which is “dedicated to promoting the basic rights of attention owners.” I’m honored to be serving on the initial board of AttentionTrust.org, along with Dick Costolo and Clay Shirky.

I’ve written about attention before, but I realize it remains a nebulous concept to many folks. I think part of the problem is that those of us who write about attention tend to be talking to people who already understand the concept, so I’ll write this on the assumption that you have no idea what I’m talking about.

In a nutshell, the idea is that your attention data – that is, data that describes what you’re paying attention to – has value, and because it has value, when you give someone your attention you should expect to be given something in return. And just because you give someone your attention, it doesn’t mean that they own it. You should expect to get it back.

I know that sounds a little weird – it took me a while to grok it, too. So I’ll use an example that’s familiar to many of us: Netflix ratings and recommendations. By telling Netflix how you rate a specific movie you’re telling them what you’re paying attention to, and in return they can recommend additional DVDs to you based on how other people rated the same movie. In return for giving them your attention data – which is of great value to them – they provide you features such as recommendations that they hope will be valuable to you. In my mind, this is a fair trade.

But what if Netflix collected this information without your knowledge, and rather than using it to give you added value they sold it to another service instead? I imagine that many people wouldn’t like that idea – chances are, you’d want to be given the opportunity to decide who this information can be shared with. This is one of the goals of AttentionTrust.org: to leave you in charge of what’s done with your attention data.

But what about this whole idea of mobility, as mentioned on the AttentionTrust.org site? What’s the benefit of making this stuff mobile? Dave Winer provides a nice example: suppose you could share your Netflix attention data with a dating site such as Match.com, so you could find possible partners who like the same movies as you? For that sort of thing to be possible, you’d need to be able to get your attention data back from any service which collects it. (As an aside, this also means you could share your Netflix queue with any new DVD rental service that comes down the pike – so my guess is that smaller, up-and-coming sites will be more willing to share attention data than the more entrenched sites will.)

This is the stage we’re at now with attention data, but my prediction is that attention will become far more important down the road. Right now we’re witnessing the growth of services who provide aggregated attention data, and statistics suggested by this data will increasingly impact those of us – journalists and techies alike – who hope to survive in the online world. And the Utopian in me would love to see this grow into a means to find out what people are paying attention to (so we decide what the top stories are) but I fear that spam and the usual assortment of garbage that comes with popularity will give rise to “safe” outlets that still end up choosing the news for us. Regardless, though, now is a good time for something like AttentionTrust.org to plant a stake in the ground and let attention-based businesses know what’s expected of them.

Related reading:

Gnomedex 5.0 Looks Great

Wow – has anyone else been watching the list of attendees at this year’s Gnomedex? It’s like a “who’s who” of the blogging world. Here are just a few of the people who are planning to be there:

Gnomedex is at the top of my list of favorite conferences, not just because of the people attending, but because I always learn something new there. For example, last year’s Gnomedex is where I learned about podcasting, which resulted in me adding podcast downloading and synching to FeedDemon.

And it looks like there will be a lot of RSS aggregator developers there, too – including Brent Simmons (NetNewsWire), Greg Reinacker (NewsGator), Mark Fletcher (Bloglines), Tim Catlin (Rojo), J.J. Allaire (Onfolio) and (of course) myself (FeedDemon).

If you’re thinking of attending, you might want to register now – I wouldn’t be surprised if this fills up soon.