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Friday, June 30, 2006


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Some of it sounds great, but some of it sounds dangerously like you will be putting ads in the feeds. Or perhaps using the attention data to recommend "relevant" feeds that happen to be thinly veiled ads.

Personally, I don't buy this whole "attention" thing. It presumes that everything I look at, I am interested in for myself and that everything I look at has equal weighting in my mind. This is the farthest thing from the truth.

Just yesterday I saw a feed post about a NASCAR item. I have absolutely no interest at all in NASCAR, but I know two people at work who are, so I followed the link and sent them the article. I don't want the system to now think I care about NASCAR and recommend more NASCAR related feeds. I also don't want to manually tell the system I'm NOT interested. That's just an annoying extra step.

If you are going to go down this route, the only thing that seems to make sense is an interface where I can manually tell the NG system what things I am interested in, and let it recommend feeds which I could manually subscribe to from there. To assume I have a true interest in something just because I click on it, simply isn't true.

The other problem with focusing on attention data is that it becomes a funnel. Suppose I am actually interested in baseball. I read a few baseball feeds and the NG system recognizes that and suggests some more. So I subscribe to those. Then the system thinks, "wow, this guy is really into baseball." FeedDemon begins to drop the other feeds I'm not following and adding more and more baseball feeds. After a while the only thing I actually do read is baseball feeds because that's all you are giving me. It feeds on itself and will spiral out of control very easily.

That might be an extreme example but it shows how attention can have the negative side effect of further narrowing a person's interests and knowledge. Part of the great thing about general news and interest feeds is that it can expose you to things you might never be exposed to if you only concentrate on the narrow band of things your attention data says you are interested in.

It seems like a lot of technology looking for a problem that very few people have or will have.

I'm a geek who loves new stuff, but this just leaves me cold. I think most people wil feel the same, and be quite happy with feed reading capabilities of IE7 / FF / Opera.

Also, I've no interest in yet another company building a profile of my surfing habits, especially a company that has already made me wary with the attempted introduction of a subscription fee for software I'd already paid for and spammed me two or three times.

Or maybe I'm just bitter that TopStyle has been left to stagnate and has second-class citizen status in this company? ;)


We're still waiting for flagged items synchronisation.

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