Data portability in online dating sooner than they think?

Dating Apps make money from attention & personal data

I have written a few times about disruption in online dating, heck its something which will be discussed at Mozilla Festival this year (tickets are available now).

But interestingly the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation may get in there ahead of any setup/network disruption. In the Guardian I saw a piece called Getting your data out of Tinder is really hard – but it shouldn’t be.

Its all about getting data back from Tinder (which remember is part of IAC/Match group)

…Duportail eventually got some of the rest of her data, but only on a voluntary basis, and only after she identified herself as a journalist. Her non-journalist friends who followed suit never got responses to similar requests.

Finally armed with the 800 pages she had clawed back from Tinder, Duportail wrote a story reflecting on her own relationship with her data, and the myopic view Tinder had of her love life. I feel her story helps bridge the chasm between those with information stored in the database and the architects behind it, providing much needed neutral common ground to democratically discuss power distributions in the digital economy.

Given the popularity of her story, and my overflowing inbox, I would say many agree. And indeed, you should expect more similar stories to be unearthed in the future because of the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). From May 2018, the new European-level regulation will come into force, claiming wider applicability – including on US-based companies, such as Tinder, processing the personal data of Europeans – and harmonising data protection and enforcement by “levelling up” protections for all European residents.

I know there is a lot of push back from the big American internet corps, but this is coming and the there is no way they can wriggle out of it?

…beyond the much older right of access, the true revolution of GDPR will come in the form of a new right for all European citizens: the right to portability.

It seems like such a small thing but actually it has the potential to be extremely disruptive. Heck its one of the things I wanted back in early 2011. Imagine all those new services which could act like brokers and enable choice! It could be standard to have the ability to export and import rich data sets like Attention profile markup language (APML).

I just wish we were staying in Europe, although the UK has agreed to take GDPR, thankfully! There was no way, if they were left on their own, this would ever come about; like it looks like it might.

Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid To Talk About Anything On A First Date

Jack's Rose Cocktail

Its not usually I agree with these things but Elite daily has a piece title: Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid To Talk About Anything On A First Date.

…when it comes to first date conversations, most people stick to the basics: What do you do? Where did you grow up? What shows/music/whatever are you currently obsessed with?

Now technically, there isn’t anything wrong with these safe subjects, but TBH they’re kind of boring and definitely won’t reveal anything meaningful about the person sitting across the table from you.

And while a cute outfit and a friendly demeanor are first date requirements, sticking to this safe, vanilla small talk shouldn’t be.

That’s right: We’re here to tell you that NO subject should be off limits. In fact, if there’s one thing we’ve learned from years (and years and years) of research, it’s that cutting to the chase from the start is the best way to figure out if someone’s a good match for you.

  • Small talk is forgettable.
  • You probably already, um, researched the person anyway.
  • You won’t waste your time.
  • Your date’s reaction will tell you a lot about who s/he is.
  • Scaring someone away might be the best thing that ever happened.

To be fair I adopted this approach a long time ago in speed dating, first dates and life generally. Small talk is forgettable, boring and tells you nothing. Sometimes I get really odd looks and responses; but than also tells you plenty. Of course this is all contextual but if you can quickly get down to a deeper level, then its all good for everyone.

I do generally think if you’re not in a deep meaningful conversations then its highly likely there won’t be another date and most likely not right for me. I once put on my OKCupid dating profile, something about being deep and frankly Its something I’ve removed as it sounds wanky but its very true.

My weekly smartphone use…

At the Quantified Self conference a few weeks ago there was a very interesting conversation & social experiment about smartphone use. Ever since I’ve been getting more interested in the good and bad uses of smartphones, even gave a summary of ideas collected over the different sessions.

But I’ve been thinking about my low usage at the conference and decided to seek out an app which just counts the usage and nothing more (most have other types of permissions to do all types of other things). Found Timefactory’s Time used did pretty much this (although I’d like a proper data export option), seems low on resources and very simple.

So above is my regular usage of my Nexus 5X over the last week, and this week was a regular go to work everyday and social event most evenings kind of a week.

Its low, agreed but I didn’t go out to not check it or anything. I carry my Nexus with me pretty much everywhere. But having my pebble smartwatch and other devices around me certainly has a massive effect on how many times I actually have to turn on the phone screen.

Look forward to sharing the month summary too.

Tips for dealing with our unhealthy smartphone addiction?

Smartphones and shadows.

Originally I wanted to write a massive blog connecting the last blog about Thintelligenece, Tristan harris‘ essay reply, what I picked out of the quantified self, my thoughts following visiting Tokyo, Mark Manson’s smartphones are the new cigarettes and reading Alone together.

I found this from dating site review ages ago and it seems apt…

“The problem doesn’t lie with dating apps per se – technology in general is changing how we behave and interact. People are spending more time updating and commenting on their social media accounts than they are having actual conversations or meeting up with people IRL. Take a look at any bar or restaurant, and inevitably you see a group of people at a table, and none of them are talking to each other – they are staring at their phones.”

Theres a common theme that maybe our use of smartphones might not be all its cracked up to be? However I don’t really need to tell you this right? The amount of times I have walked into a lift in the last week, looked around to see glowing faces and no eye contact at all is quite scary as purely a thought experiment. I’m currently at about 90% looking at screens – if you were wondering.

Its quite easy to be slightly concerned, but I’m wondering why my phone usage pick up during the first day of the Quantified Self 2017 conference in comparison? Could there be something in the way I use my phone?

Quantified Self 2017
People put up their hands for how long they were on their phones during the conference

Not only this Aaron Parecki gave a talk about choices when choosing quantified self equipment or packages (as Justin said being things which are a mix of hardware, software and service). There seems to be some tips emerging between the 3 different sources.

So I thought I’d share them together.

smartphones looks

    • Lower the brightness, use some-kind of twilight mode or turn your screen to greyscale.
      As Tristan Harris says apps and operating systems are made to keep you looking and interacting for longer. They have this down to a science now. Theres also tons of research indicating that the blue light from LCD screens messes with your sleep routine, heck I swear by redshift and twilight. The greyscale is interesting too.
    • Turn off all sound and light alerts (vibrate will do)
      I’m totally shocked when I hear someones ring tone to be honest, I mean really? I turned off all notification lights from day one, so surprised when I see a flashing or strobing light on other peoples phones.
    • Turn off that stupid mode when it wakes up your phone screen to show you notifications.
      I always thought it was a iphone thing but seen it on Androids too. I honestly think so stupid as its battery zapping and ever so distracting. This also totally kills the doze mode on Android! Plus think about it, it lasts about 5 secs and if someone sends you a detailed message, you only get half the message forcing you to pick up the phone.

My Shadow

      • Put different apps on another phone, tablet device or smartwatch.
        My tablet is wifi only and has a very different set of apps and use. I also limit what kind of alerts I get on my pebble smartwatch, which also means I don’t need to look at my phone for the time. I had no idea the ipad doesn’t include a calculator? Each device is different and has a different purpose, there are apps which I wouldn’t dare put on my phone but I’d consider it for my tablet.
      • Don’t feel guilty for not picking up the phone!
        The guilt people put themselves under is out of control, no one will notice if you reply 5, 15, 30, 60mins later. You don’t need to reply straight away, unless you are expecting something or trying to get hold of someone.

    It Begins with Bonjour

    • Have some self-control
      Don’t use your phone as a (anti) social crutch; barrier between the physical world and you. I get the loneliness is a difficult and maybe social settings make you feel uncomfortable? But force yourself to be present in the moment, you might be missing an opportunity.
    • Don’t put your phone on the table
      I get it, Doze only works when your phone is flat and left alone for a while but since Android N it now works in your pocket. I use to do this all the time to save battery, at the end of a long conversation it would actually be stone cold! If you must, keep your screen facing down and don’t get tempted to unlock it (You should of course not have that stupid wake the screen up mode too!).
      smartphone
    • Think about your time as important
      It sounds silly when you think about it but our attention is finite and should be treated as important. When thinking about ourselves, we tend to put ourselves down, saying I’m no one special but to be frank we are important! Everyone of us are capable of such incredible things but not if we are all looking at our phones.
    • Think about what you are doing with your phone
      Are you simply filling time or doing something constructive with your time? No judgment about what you class as constructive but adding a like to a friends profile picture can wait. I recently tried to get a friend to do more constructive things with his phone but the continuous (endless/bottomless) stream of social notifications was too great it seems.
    • Stop with the selfies!
      Ok this is just my thing but if you can’t turn to a stranger and ask to take a picture, then something is seriously wrong! Live a little maybe that conversation might turn into something you wasn’t expected. Think about those Snapchat filters, encouraging you to act a certain way... Its not subtle but people get caught up in it and don’t think, and this is what the app maker wants from you. I’ll remind you of the fruit machine flow state which Natasha Dow Schüll, talks about in her book addicted by design.
      Smartphone
    • Stop with phone one upmanship
      I have seen too many times when someone shows something, then someone else pulls out their phone in response. Before long everyone has their phone out looking to out do each other. Theres even silence while everyone looks and pops up for social proof every once in a while.
  • Theres many more
  • …but that will do for now. If you can think of more, add a comment and I’ll likely do a updated blog with more soon.

Tristan Harris essay on attention hijacking and ever so dark patterns

Human attention is a scarce commodity

I heard about Tristan Harris through Time well spent which some people have been sharing a while ago. Kept meaning to read more about him and the essay he wrote. Its a excellent read and well worth reading. A few times while reading it, I wanted to annotate it some how. I know the w3C have finally sorted out the spec and I could do it via Diigo or even Wallabag if I wanted to; but sharing it seems to need more research on my part.

So instead I thought I’d half blog about it while copying the main points (once again you should read the whole thing yourself). Tristan has sectioned the points so I’ll copy that.

But I did want to say I find it interesting that Adrian Westaway from Special Projects and Tristan Harris are both magicians. The link between magic and design is a interesting one.

Hijack #1: If You Control the Menu, You Control the Choices

Western Culture is built around ideals of individual choice and freedom. Millions of us fiercely defend our right to make “free” choices, while we ignore how we’re manipulated upstream by limited menus we didn’t choose.

This is exactly what magicians do. They give people the illusion of free choice while architecting the menu so that they win, no matter what you choose. I can’t emphasize how deep this insight is.

When people are given a menu of choices, they rarely ask:

  • “what’s not on the menu?”
  • “why am I being given these options and not others?”
  • “do I know the menu provider’s goals?”
  • “is this menu empowering for my original need, or are the choices actually a distraction?” (e.g. an overwhelmingly array of toothpastes)

Absolutely, I do this a lot because I’m wondering how to break the system or hijack for my own needs. Usually when going to restaurants I need to hack it because I have so many allergies. If I didn’t hack it then I’d be pretty much dead.

I also find patterns quite interesting and can identify them quickly, so my tesco monthly shop will have every 2-3 months a deal on toilet rolls because I assume thats when they get the new stock in and need to shift some of the older ones. This funny example of understanding allows me to hack the system for my own needs.

I also tend to ignore all the recommendation stuff including the instant reply stuff I seen google has added to gmail. I also start to wonder more and more how this data is being mined to generate these results. Of course I got a big interest in big/linked data, data ethics and opinionated software.

Hijack #2: Put a Slot Machine In a Billion Pockets

One of the most tricky things I’ve seen many people try and deal with is not checking their phones and when they do, they do for what reason? To check out someone has liked something they have done. This comes straight out of the Sherry Turkle’s book Alone Together.

If you’re an app, how do you keep people hooked? Turn yourself into a slot machine.

But here’s the unfortunate truth — several billion people have a slot machine their pocket:

When we pull our phone out of our pocket, we’re playing a slot machineto see what notifications we got.

  • When we pull to refresh our email, we’re playing a slot machine to see what new email we got.
  • When we swipe down our finger to scroll the Instagram feed, we’replaying a slot machine to see what photo comes next.
  • When we swipe faces left/right on dating apps like Tinder, we’re playing a slot machine to see if we got a match.
  • When we tap the # of red notifications, we’re playing a slot machine to what’s underneath.

It takes some serious will to break away from the slot machines, especially when every once in a while it actually pays out (as such).

bThis is very much a dark pattern or dark art which drives a huge economy. Notifications like the breaking news banner on news sites tap right into the dopamine sender and the only way to break this is being more conscious. The truth is unsettling and we may not be able to easily change this without both sides being more aware/conscious of this all. Tristan points the finger at Google and Apple and yes they have responsibility but it can’t come from them alone.

Hijack #3: Fear of Missing Something Important (FOMSI)

Creating, inducing or manufacturing FOMO (fear of missing out) is pretty dark stuff.

Another way apps and websites hijack people’s minds is by inducing a “1% chance you could be missing something important.”

If I convince you that I’m a channel for important information, messages, friendships, or potential sexual opportunities — it will be hard for you to turn me off, unsubscribe, or remove your account — because (aha, I win) you might miss something important:

  • This keeps us subscribed to newsletters even after they haven’t delivered recent benefits (“what if I miss a future announcement?”)
  • This keeps us “friended” to people with whom we haven’t spoke in ages (“what if I miss something important from them?”)
  • This keeps us swiping faces on dating apps, even when we haven’t even met up with anyone in a while (“what if I miss that one hot match who likes me?”
  • This keeps us using social media (“what if I miss that important news story or fall behind what my friends are talking about?”)

I personally don’t subscribe to a lot of things because I’m wary of the effect of FOMO. I also don’t follow a lot people on Twitter because I don’t use twitter in that way much to the annoyance of some of my friends and followers. I do have a lot of friend connections on Facebook but also don’t read the timeline (its not a timeline, rather a curated feed for you based on algorithms and what FB thinks you want, remember point 1 about what the provider wants out of the deal?)

My friend Jon Rogers left twitter saying I was right about twitter (I can’t find any trace of him on twitter too). I wish I could find the conversation/blog (which seems to be down), but I partly blamed the fact he was using the official twitter client which would do things which were not to the benefit of him in anyway. Similarly Oli who left FB and then joined again after feeling FOMO.

Final example is why I left Bumble; I recognised the pattern of FOMSI being manufactured by Bumble and decided I wasn’t interested in being involved. Its a shame because I liked the concept but it was ruined for me by this forced FOSMI.

Hijack #4: Social Approval

We’re all vulnerable to social approval. The need to belong, to be approved or appreciated by our peers is among the highest human motivations. But now our social approval is in the hands of tech companies (like when we’re tagged in a photo).

Social approval is massive and drives us to do things which we wouldn’t normally do if we stopped and thought. I’d add this mixed with FOMO are a pretty lethal combination.

I wish I could filter out the likes on FB which clutter up my notifications, the little hit of dopamine just isn’t worth it. But then again I also like to click like to almost give my approval. Maybe I should stop doing this? This would also stop helping out the FB algorithm with positive reactions, now that can’t be a bad thing?

Of course social approval goes way beyond the likes and into the scoring stuff which I have talked about before.

Hijack #5: Social Reciprocity (Tit-for-tat)

Now this one really bugs me… I understand reciprocity theory and how it can be hijacked to con/cheat people out of something they wouldn’t normally give. Influence is a great book which I’d highly recommend to everyone.

We are vulnerableto needing to reciprocate others’ gestures. But as with Social Approval, tech companies now manipulate how often we experience it.

In some cases, it’s by accident. Email, texting and messaging apps are social reciprocity factories. But in other cases, companies exploit this vulnerability on purpose.

There was a period of time when the laws of social reciprocity seemed to dictate if you follow someone, you need to follow you back. This was rubbish of course, but pushed by twitters own system which encouraged you to follow back with one click. Twitter was a async follow but the service was changed to encourage something similar to a friend request later – most likely once the money became more important.

Of course Tristan is dead right about linkedin being a shocking example of this. I almost have to give them a award for their use of dark patterns to get you to do more within Linkedin.

orginal LinkedIn wants as many people creating social obligations for each other as possible, because each time they reciprocate (by accepting a connection, responding to a message, or endorsing someone back for a skill) they have to come back through linkedin.com where they can get people to spend more time.

Like Facebook, LinkedIn exploits an asymmetry in perception. When you receive an invitation from someone to connect, you imagine that person making a conscious choice to invite you, when in reality, they likely unconsciously responded to LinkedIn’s list of suggested contacts. In other words, LinkedIn turns your unconscious impulses (to “add” a person) into new social obligations that millions of people feel obligated to repay. All while they profit from the time people spend doing it.

Hijack #6: Bottomless bowls, Infinite Feeds, and Autoplay

Oh boy this winds me up big time, endless feeds. Its very similar to the all you can eat buffets. The quality of the things you are consuming are dubious at best and although you started out with something decent it suddenly drops in quality or go so far off the original purpose or reason.

Another way to hijack people is to keep them consuming things, even when they aren’t hungry anymore.

How? Easy. Take an experience that was bounded and finite, and turn it into a bottomless flowthat keeps going.

Cornell professor Brian Wansink demonstrated this in his study showing you can trick people into keep eating soup by giving them a bottomless bowl that automatically refills as they eat. With bottomless bowls, people eat 73% more calories than those with normal bowls and underestimate how many calories they ate by 140 calories.

Tech companies exploit the same principle. News feeds are purposely designed to auto-refill with reasons to keep you scrolling, and purposely eliminate any reason for you to pause, reconsider or leave.

This is partly why I prefer to read RSS than get the endless supply of stuff from Google, etc. At least there is a bottom and you can see a number of unread items. With these news feeds, its endless and the quality or value of the content is dependent on the agenda or services current goals (that can be as simple as this advertiser wants to pay us lots of money).

Endless also sucks you into the world that its only available now/its temporary and next time you look it will be gone or different. This is why I use services like wallabag, pocket or even youtube watch it later. If its worth saving its worth spending some time on and not being rushed to the next thing. Yes its hard and there is a social pressure to have watched or read it quickly (skimmed) to keep up with the conversation. In fact coming back to something in twitter usually causes confusion if you come back to a post a few days later. This is why I tend to just blog it to give it context and the effort once I read it fully.

Endless scroll is becoming a bit of thing now too, similar to the swipe forever stuff. Don’t get me started about auto play video, which I have seen cause much problems with presentations in conferences; as you can imagine

Hijack #7: Instant Interruption vs. “Respectful” Delivery

Companies know that messages that interrupt people immediately are more persuasive at getting people to respond than messages delivered asynchronously (like email or any deferred inbox).

Given the choice, Facebook Messenger (or WhatsApp, WeChat or SnapChat for that matter) would prefer to design their messaging system tointerrupt recipients immediately (and show a chat box) instead of helping users respect each other’s attention.

In other words, interruption is good for business.

It’s also in their interest to heighten the feeling of urgency and social reciprocity. For example, Facebook automatically tells the sender when you “saw” their message, instead of letting you avoid disclosing whether you read it(“now that you know I’ve seen the message, I feel even more obligated to respond.”) By contrast, Apple more respectfully lets users toggle “Read Receipts” on or off.

I do generally avoid a lot of these instant messaging systems but even those I use have included this way (Gtalk, Wire and even Signal). If I can turn it off I do but I have observed how Facebook now throws up notification as a window above other stuff like a instant message. Lets not forget those horrible chat heads too.

Respectful delivery is getting rare and even when they are, you need to work at it. I feel quite lucky that I’m running Ubuntu as my host operating system which gives me complete control over the notifications but this doesn’t help when looking at a browser tab like Facebook, which wants to dominate (trust me this is the right word) the view. This is also another reason why I don’t have Facebook on my phones/tablets and why I limit messengers permissions.

Hijack #8: Bundling Your Reasons with Their Reasons

In the physical world of grocery stories, the #1 and #2 most popular reasons to visit are pharmacy refills and buying milk. But grocery stores want to maximize how much people buy, so they put the pharmacy and the milk at the back of the store.

In other words, they make the thing customers want (milk, pharmacy) inseparable from what the business wants. If stores were truly organized to support people, they would put the most popular items in the front.

This is bloody annoying and one of the reasons why a lot of apps dont really care or advertise direct links into parts of there systems. This is why I have to keep FB in a tab otherwise everytime I login, I would need to go via the news feed each time, a total waste of my time.

The whole point of the web is not having to go on a journey each time. Remember when you saw VR shopping malls and thought wtf? Well thats pretty much the same coming back to haunt us all, for whose benefit? Certainly not yours!

Hijack #9: Inconvenient Choices

This is a recurring dark pattern, the roach motel.

We’re told that it’s enough for businesses to “make choices available.”

“If you don’t like it you can always use a different product.”
“If you don’t like it, you can always unsubscribe.”
“If you’re addicted to our app, you can always uninstall it from your phone.”

Businesses naturally want to make the choices they want you to make easier, and the choices they don’t want you to make harder. Magicians do the same thing. You make it easier for a spectator to pick the thing you want them to pick, and harder to pick the thing you don’t.

For example, NYTimes.com let’s you “make a free choice” to cancel your digital subscription. But instead of just doing it when you hit “Cancel Subscription,” they force you to call a phone number that’s only open at certain times.

Hijack #10: Forecasting Errors, “Foot in the Door” strategies

People don’t intuitively forecast the true cost of a click when it’s presented to them. Sales people use “foot in the door” techniques by asking for a small innocuous request to begin with (“just one click”), and escalating from there (“why don’t you stay awhile?”). Virtually all engagement websites use this trick. Imagine if web browsers and smartphones, the gateways through which people make these choices, were truly watching out for people and helped them forecast the consequences of clicks (based on real data about what it actually costs most people?). That’s why I add “Estimated reading time” to the top of my posts. When you put the “true cost” of a choice in front of people, you’re treating your users or audience with dignity and respect.
This is tied to so many of the things said previously. One of the useful things I found is the putting things into wallabag and pocket is I can manager my own time; and not be forced into making a poor decision under time pressure
The Hurrah – A sudden crisis or change of events forces the victim to act immediately.
 
Its clear most humans do not make good decisions under pressure and scammers, con-artists, the systems we use know this too well.

There is so much more to discuss including the how to fix this all… but thats for another blog post…

Smartphones are the new Cigarettes? Really?

According to Mark Manson they are

Its quite alarmist title but to be fair his recent book “The subtle art of not giving a fuck” (I have started reading this book btw) also sums up a lot; although his blog about feminism really spoke to me.

The start of Marks arguement stems from going to gym and having people checking their phone in the middle of a session.

And the coach got pissed, yelled at them to put their fucking phones away, and we all stood around awkwardly.

This proceeded to happen two or three times in the class, as it does in pretty much every class, and for whatever reason, today I decided to speak my mind to the women glued to her phone while the rest of us were working out:

Is there really nothing in your life that can’t wait 30 minutes? Or are you curing cancer or something?

Point taken (although I did that nervous laugh when first reading this). I have lots of thoughts about this myself too, especially after coming back from Tokyo. I’ve been grappling with it and started thinking maybe I’m just getting old?

Smoking & Texting

I have been reading Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together book and haven’t even got to the part about smartphones yet. I’m still early in the book about robots and how we are react to them. Fascinating and slightly scary in someways.

Mark calls it Attention pollution

…somebody else’s inability to focus or control themselves then interferes with the attention and focus of those around them.

Then goes into detail…

…with the explosion in smart devices and internet available pretty much everywhere from Timbuktu to your mother’s ass crack, attention pollution is infiltrating our daily lives more and more without us realizing it.

It’s why we get annoyed at dinner when someone starts texting in front of us. It’s why we get pissed off when someone pulls their phone out in a movie theater. It’s why we become irritated when someone is checking their email instead of watching the ballgame.

Their inability to focus interferes with our (already-fragile) ability to focus. The same way second-hand smoke harms the lungs of people around the smoker, smartphones harm the attention and focus of people around the smartphone user. It hijacks our senses. It forces us to pause our conversations and redouble our thoughts unnecessarily. It causes us to lose our train of thought and forget that important point we were constructing in our head. It erodes at our ability to connect and simply be present with one another, destroying intimacy in the process.

Ok I hear you MarkAttention is precious thing, I’ve said this for years in blog posts and presentations around perceptive media.

Human attention is a scarce commodity

But I disagree on something and you would expect so as a person who finds it slight weird being offline for too long.

Its about choice, social norms and context.

For example I am writing this blog in Ezra & Gil coffee shop with no headphones listening to conversations around me. Ezra includes free wifi from Telecom which you need to click on every hour or so. Theres plugs around the sides of the Cafe, on the high tables best suited for laptop users. While I was in Iceland I spent sometime Reykjavik Roasters which has no wifi deliberately to encourage a different kind of environment. I could have gone around the block to one of the many Te & Kaffi’s but choose to give it a try (choice).

Back to Ezra, some of the conversations are person to person, some are video chat via phone or laptop (these tend to be quieter – social norms). I personally find this more useful for my own mind when writing and thinking. Hence I regularly work out of the northern quarter to help me think. However I don’t want someone on their smartphone while in the cinema (contextual).

Its helped having a smartwatch and I deliberately delay most of my notifications.

Simple but slightly naive solution to Mark gym problem. The coach makes it clear at the start what kind of attention is required. The people then have a choice if they take part or not. If this is broken social norm will take effect. If the notification is so big it cant be ignored, context will mean you can’t carry on anyway.

I do agree there is a problem but comparing it to smoking isn’t quite right in my head. Yes people fill in the silences by looking at their phones, yes I find ringtones in public very annoying (who has their phone on anything but vibrate now a days?) and yes there is a big problem with notifications. But unlike smoking there are big benefits to smartphones too (unlike smoking).

With the right amount of self control, context awareness and established social norms; it could be something incredible. But then we get into what they are actually doing on the phone which is a whole different blog.

Stop making stupid people famous

Decoupling attention and physical proximity

Jason Silva has covered this before but this goes one step beyond.

We’re post-geographical beings, attentional proximity has been decoupled from physical proximity, collapsing geography

Attention proximity is interesting to me, especially because I have been known to be many miles away in attention from where I  physically am.

The decoupling is something which I can relate to…

Do I now have your strict attention?

The above video real or not real it doesn’t matter, 1.7 million people to date have watched #publooshocker. Reminds me very much of John Doe on Se7en and used in perceptive media presentations.

John Doe:

Wanting people to listen, you can’t just tap them on the shoulder anymore. You have to hit them with a sledgehammer, and then you’ll notice you’ve got their strict attention.

The weight or attention of media

Talking to Adrian late last night… He mentioned something to do with weight and video.

Then today, I started thinking wouldn’t it be interesting to apply a weight model to films/media based on their attention required?

For example: Tinker tailor soldier spy

I have this ready to watch at a touch of a button but everytime I see it pop up, I think well I’m busy doing all this other stuff, I can’t really spare the attention right now. This is also the same for most of the subtitled media I own.

I actually had decided to watch it on my Tablet on the way into work but I’m still busy reading kindle most times.

So attention is actually the metric but its displayed in a form of weight. I know there will be a debate about the weighting of certainly films for example is Donnie Darko a heavy weight or actually quite light? I remember having debates with Sarah about the depth of the film. She couldn’t understand where me and Dave were getting all this additional detail from but sitting down and watching it again and pointing out certain parts got the points across.

Another perfect example is Primer. You could watch the film and think, oh interesting but not all that. Then someone clues you into the Primer Timeline (spoiler alert!) So how would you weight that film? Very heavy or medium? I guess the same would apply to Fight Club?

I’m assuming something like the crowd based rating system would solve the problem, plus its only a guide. The weighting could also clue you into the fact theres more to a film than you may have first spotted. But likewise the opposite is true?

Once again, you heard it hear first, go use but attribution back here please.

Lightweight Attention Preference Markup

So this is the 2nd time I'm writing this because I forgot to save the entry when I upgraded the memory on my Dell. Yep 2gig of memory instead of 1gig now but still no decent Blogging tool for Linux. Wblogger and Ecto would have automaticlly saved the entry every few minutes or at least asked me what I should do with the unsaved entry before terminating and throwing my words to a black hole. Anyway enough moaning…

Previously I promised a couple of things in this entry

First up, I'm going to standardise some way of linking FOAF, OPML, OpenID and APML together. I expect I'll keep this very simple using the link element in (x)HTML or somehow combine this into a Hcard profile. Next up a APML microformat or APML lite for sure. I'll try it as I've been studying the others and the general methology of Microformats and I think it could be done. So I'll suggest it and draw up how it works and submit it for lots of review. I'm now exploring how to get APML out of Amarok and RSS Owl.

So how far have I got so far?

One : So I have linked all three (APML, FOAF and OpenID) together using links on my blog. So if you look at the source you will now see this. Which is cool but I think we can do better.

<link rel="openid.server" href="http://www.myopenid.com/server"/>
<link rel="openid.delegate" href="http://cubicgarden.myopenid.com"/>
<link rel="meta" type="application/rdf+xml" title="FOAF" href="http://www.cubicgarden.com/webdav/profile/foaf.rdf"/>
<link rel="meta" type="text+xml" title="APML"
href="https://apml.engagd.com/apml/www.cubicgarden.com/blojsom/blog/cubicgarden"/>

When I say do better, I've been looking around a couple of things. First up is a better way to do the basic link element so it can be turned into a RDF triple later. It was found while looking at RDF/A examples which will be explained later.

When a meta or link is used within another meta or link, the internal triple has, as subject, the external triple. This is reification.

<link about="" rel="[cc:license]" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.5/">  <meta property="dc:date" content="2005-10-18" /> </link>


which yields:

[ rdf:subject <>; rdf:predicate cc:license ; rdf:object <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.5/> ] dc:date "2005-10-18".

Now I'm not that keen on the syntax, but its not over complex and I guess you could do something like this.

	<link about="." rel="[foaf/images/emoticons/silly.giferson]" href="http://www.cubicgarden.com/webdav/profile/foaf.rdf">
	<meta property="apml:profile" content="https://apml.engagd.com/apml/www.cubicgarden.com/blojsom/blog/cubicgarden" />
	<meta property="openid.server" content="http://www.myopenid.com/server"/>
	<meta property="openid.delegate" content="http://cubicgarden.myopenid.com"/>
	</link>


But I guess getting all those openID parsers to change now will be a nightmare, so to be honest I'm happy either way. But I think it does make sense to link everything in the HTML rather that rely on a OpenID parser to look at the HTML then find the URL for the FOAF file and then parse through that to find the Open ID url. Yes I already know you can put OpenID in FOAF thats why I'm saying its not a good idea, but there is no harm in having it in the FOAF optionally. Which is what I'm going to do, but I've recenly seen how out of date my FOAF file really is, so I'm going to try and update it soon. If anyone knows how to get FOAF out of Facebook, Flickr, Delicious, Linkedin, Dopplr, Upcoming, etc that would be useful. O'reilly's connections network use to allow for FOAF but somehwere along the line seems to have died or closed down, because I tried to find it and login, so I can at least start somewhere. So generally number one is done.

Two : So the huge challenge of building a Microformat for APML, so people can easily put in there preferences without building a very complex xml file. Because lets be honest, like RDF and other XML's this stuff was never meant to be built by humans. Also I like the idea of using standard HTML elements and attributes so people can instantly try this stuff out. I saw recently on the microformats blog that there is almost 450 million? examples of Microformats now and its growing everyday. Its not hard to see why when you consider how it is to try out some of them. For example adding a tag is as simple as adding another attribute to a link. Some of the other microformats are a little more tricky but generally with a example in front of most people they can work it out quickly. So whats the W3C's answer to Microformats? Well RDF/A which is a unified framework build around putting semantic meaning into HTML. A while ago it was meant to be for XHTML 2.0 but its been brough forward which is great news. Because the only other alternative seemed to be e-RDF which no one could work out if was royality free or not. Ok I have to admit I'm writing this entry over a couple of days. So I found my way on to the O'reilly connections network again. So you should be able to see my public view here. Anyway the point is that they already have FOAF, which makes my life slightly easier that starting from scratch again. Going back to APML, I'll try modeling it with RDF/A and see what happens. So far I think my plans is to keep the explict and implicit context and maybe attach it to a openID or unique ID. I'm not going to include stuff like the source because its too complex and not that relevent for a lightweight version of APML. I mean if you really want APML, just use APML. If you want something to indicate your preferences (< href="http://www.tommorris.org/blog/">beyond a link) in HTML, what I'm brewing up might just be right for you. I've also decided to call it LiteAPM, as in Lightweight Attention Preference Markup for now.

Three : Ok I'm not being funny but where the hell does Amarok store its configurations and database? I think I've found RSSOwl's basic configuration stuff but content i'm not so sure about yet. But then again I've not really tried really hard yet. I can't find a mention about Amarok anywhere. So I hit the web and found a way to pull almost anything I want out of Amarok via the command line. So honestly all I really need now is to learn how to program Perl or install something like XMLstarlet, and learn how to use stuff like the cron and unix pipes. Wow now I can do all that stuff I've been talking about for a long time. Stay tuned…

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Why I love the idea of APML

APML support so far

I decided to split up my posts about the girl geekdinner because something happened later when we got to the pub in Victoria afterwards.

Walid from Trustedplaces.com was showing me some of the new features there planning. Obviously these are not to be repeated so I won't. But we got talking about the Trusted places taste tester and Walid pointed out a site I've never seen before called Imagini. Now how we got on to that subject is about profiling. I was suggesting to Walid it would be great if you make the profiling data available to the user so they could tweak it or share it. Glyn asked about the business motivations for doing so. I didn't really have a answer except it would be very cool.

So why?

Well imagini tries to map out who you are by asking you about 13 questions. Its results are poor and very general. But worst still is once you've done all that work, you get rewarded with a widget, some facts about yourself according to them, some travel sites you might like and being added to their facewall. The author calls it VisualDNA, theres lots more about VisualDNA including this part which talks about the reasoning behind it.

Did you know that businesses around the globe spend a staggering $18 billion per year on market research, trying to work out better ways of understanding what we all want? On top of this, about another $350 billion is spent every year advertising to persuade us to buy what’s been produced and available…

We think that this is totally outdated and simply not a sustainable way to carry on. It just makes sense that the future must be about producing less whilst meeting peoples needs more. We believe that the changing way in which we are all using the internet will make this possible by enabling people to get together and share information about what they like, want and need.

Our view is that the way to start assisting this process is to open up a completely new method of communication – a language that everyone who can see can interact with and understand – a language of images that enables people to understand each other in a different way.

The reason we have chosen images as a way of doing this is because about 90% of the way we all communicate is non-verbal. This 90% is made up of all sorts of different components that include many visual aspects such as who we look, act and behave.

 

This may sound cool but I'm left thinking, what else is it for me?. Now imagine it created a APML (Attention Profile Markup Language) file along with everything else. Then that would be something special.

This got me thinking too, what if other more established places like Trustedplaces, Last.FM, etc also gave away a APML file as part of the profile of each user?

One of the things I loved about APML is the Implicit Data (U-AR) and Explicit Data (I-AM) elements. You can just imagine how simple it would be to output APML from something Last.FM. (whats below isn't true APML markup, just my lazy json like writing)

Implicit (U-AR) last.fm {
concept{ Ferry Corsten = 0.87 }
concept{ Armin Van Buuren = 0.90 }
concept{ Sugar Babes = 0.1 }
concept{ Lemonhead = 0.00001 }
}

Anyway thinking about Glyns question about the business angle, I still don't quite have an answer except to say I've been following Steve Gibsons Security Now which recently has been talking about multifactor authentication.

  1. Something you know
  2. Something you have
  3. Something you are
  4. Someone you know

Well I was thinking APML could be useful for 1 and 3 but started thinking about a 5th factor. Something you know about someone. So a question could be does friend1 prefer ferry corsten, Armin, sugar babes or lemonhead? Maybe? or Maybe not?

Anyway I look forward to seeing more applications and services using APML or something like it. I think there's business reason behind APML but I can't put my finger on it right now. Hopefully someone like Trusted places gets it before Digg who just annouced something similar to trustedplaces.

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Particls – now you can all pay attention…

Particls on my desktop

The private alpha ends today. Yep the guys from Faraday Media have made Particls available to anyone who wants it. Go get it now.

For those who don't know Particls is an extensible attention platform. It learns what you like to consume and gives you more of that. I have been using it for quite some time now and have found it very useful.

  • For users: Particls is a filtered news reader or widget that learns what you care about and alerts you to important news and information while you work. More at www.particls.com
  • For bloggers and site owners: Particls allows bloggers and site owners to create a custom version of the application. Particls will share revenue with partners. More at www.particls.com/intouch
  • For developers: Particls is freely extensible by developers. Reach into corporate databases and web APIs to grab and display data in new and interesting ways. More at http://www.particls.com/extensions/
  • How much is it: Particls is a free download with some ads. Later, an ad-free Pro version will be available for a small subscription fee. It is free for Partners to create custom versions.

So Particls is the biggest step forward in the debate over attention. Some of the scenarios people have talked about can be played out in Particls. For example if Particls knows what your browsing about, it can throw up an alert from a site owner suggesting a 20% discount if the person buys that item they were searching for on ebay.co.uk right now. And thats just the start of things.

I once outlined a scenario where Particls is looking at your Microsoft Money account and whats in your Amazon wishlist. It notices you always get paid on the 28th of the month. So through clever logic pops up alerts with discounts for some of your items on your wishlist when you have enough money to pay for it.

This is quite scary but possible. And raises the issue of people taking control of their attention data. Which is where APML fits in perfectly. One of the things which always impressed me with Particls was the ability to look at the result of their I-AM/U-AR engine in XML and adjust it accordingly. This means you can just erase a large section of your personal attention data without too much hassle. It also means you can import from something else like another attention engine or your keywords from your lifestream for example.

So enough chatter, you can download it for the PC here or check out options for the Mac while they develop their native mac version.

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