I have another reason to add to Steve’s list of Top Ten Reasons Dave Winer doesn’t care about attention.
Dave’s seemingly a person of many strongly-held opinions. One that echos in my recollections of Dave’s writing was quotably reiterated just a few days ago:
“But imho, one way to do something, no matter how flawed that one way is, is better than two, no matter how much betterthe second way is.”
So, knowing that, what’s the problem with the Attention Problem?
As of two days ago, there are at least 4 ways of expressing attention:
None of which are completely suited to the task. We have attention.xml, with it’s lexically meaningless tags and with way more data than any rational human would ever realistically be able to keep up with or populate (much of which, IMHO, can’t be machine generated). AttentionTrust.org’s new format is slimmer than attention.xml; perhaps too much so – potentially valuable data is notable for its absence. While OPML might be a great way to output some parts of attention data for viewing, I don’t think it’s a great way of recording it, especially given the potential lack of namespace support for extensibility and Dave’s new-found stringency with regard to outline types. Finally, RSS seems to operate in the same level of granularity that attention data currently seems to require, and namespace extensibility is widely supported, but some of the additions that useful attention data might require represent an almost entirely new format in addition to what RSS already offers and supports. Why freight RSS with that load?
If I were Dave, and I held his belief that one way is essentially always better than 2 (which I don’t universally share), I’d want to ignore this burgeoning mess too.
The attention problem has been fairly well defined (I think we can look to Steve Gillmor‘s work for a starting place on that), but what seems ill-defined in the whole attention-space is what exactly it is we want to capture. Perhaps we should start there before trying to decide on what format to use. To do otherwise feels like putting the “ouch!” before the pinch.