March 22, 2010

My6sense Intros Attention API for Hyper-Relevant Web

Content is coming at us from every direction in the form of streams, from blogs to tweets to social networks. These streams are combining to become information waterfalls of noise from practically every direction - noise because they are all shouting for our attention and demanding we choose them over updates from somewhere else. For some, this crashing sound has become information overload, as the demands from our data exceed the time we have available to give everything its appropriate attention. For the last nine months, I have been talking to you about my6sense's application for the iPhone, which watches my activity and senses what is most relevant to me, from my RSS feeds and my social streams. At the end of the last year, they became a Paladin client, and I have been working with them closely as they improve their digital intuition. Today, at the DEMO conference, they announce their new Attention API, which lets developers and service providers capture personalized relevance - and this, the ability to see my6sense-like sorting and impact throughout the Web, is what I have been waiting for. It is this Attention API that will help quiet the noise and start delivering clear signal from new places.

my6sense Promises Personalized Streams Across the Web

As you know from my prior coverage of my6sense, and likely your own experience with the application, my6sense's intention is to surface the highest quality, most relevant information, not from the crowd, but for you. It watches what you read, and what you don't read. It watches what you share, and what you don't. It watches how long you read, what articles you open, and what you skip. And over time, effortlessly, you will find the content getting better and better. Now, one of my first stops on my iPhone after time away from the desktop is to my6sense, so I can just scan a handful of headlines and know I didn't miss anything. The introduction of the Attention API from my6sense promises to take that personalization to the Web at large, should software engineers and content publishers be interested in delivering personalized streams to their users, no matter the type of content, without requiring them to fill out detailed surveys, or explicitly indicate what they like, and what they don't.

Examples of Prioritized Streams on VentureBeat and the WSJ

In the past few months, you have seen increased focus on relevance. Google Reader has made significant steps forward with their addition of "Magic", both on their desktop client and most recently on the mobile phone. Google's search engine has started to personalize results for you, including links from your social circle. Cascaad also talked about personalization of their social media application for the iPhone, and Twitter client Twazzup is trying to find "highlights" for you based on who you interact with the most, and other factors. But my6sense doesn't see attention and relevance as simply features - but instead as the core mission of their product. That other services are also trying to solve this issue speaks well to the need for publishers to provide better user experience to their customers and make their products even more appealing.

As I introduce my6sense to people, the most common requested product features are for its running in other environments than the iPhone. The company has promised new platforms are in the works, but the addition of the Attention API does more than bring my6sense benefits to new handsets, but to new environments altogether. While the company already made a big step to start filtering Twitter and Facebook streams by relevance in the application, you can imagine how content publishers, from vertical sites to industry news, new social networking clients and blogs could offer personalized streams, based on relevance, without having users jump through complicated hoops - or simple annoyances, with "more like this" buttons, thumbs up and down, likes and dislikes.

Examples of Apps That Could be Impacted by an Attention API

As my6sense promises today with their announcement, partners looking to offer tailored, personalized streams would connect my6sense's digital intuition engine to the streams they wish to personalize, and then let my6sense know how users are expected to interact with the streams. My6sense would then return personalized streams for each user, regardless of feed type. If partners sign up, the silos of unfocused, unprioritized data that we live in today should change - into a more focused Web that delivers content ranked for every visitor. With more people tapping into social services, and trying to follow more people in more places, the opportunity to cut through the noise and find the important information, taking it to the top, could be a critical competitive advantage. With today's launch, I look forward to seeing which applications and sites will step up first.

Disclosure: my6sense is a client of Paladin Advisors Group, where I am Managing Editor of New Media. My comments on the company's product are always independent, and do not pass their way in advance.