In his post Waiting for Attention… or something like it Steve Gillmor describes our conversation at ETech and responds to some of the thoughts in my post Nightcrawler Thoughts: Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down and Attention.xml. My post ignored some of the collaborative aspects to the solution to the attention problem that Steve would like to see. Specifically

First I go to my reputational thought leaders, the subs and recurring items that bubble to the top of my attention list. It’s a second-degree-of-separation effect, where the feeds and items that a Jon Udell and a Doc Searls and a Dave Winer prioritize are gleaned for hits and duplicates, and returned as a weighted stream. In turn, each of those hits can be measured for that author’s patterns and added in to provide a descending algorithim of influence. All the while, what is not bubbling up is driven further down the stack, making more room for more valuable content.

It’s important to remember that this is an open pool of data, massaged, sliced, and diced by not just a Technorati but a PubSub or Feedster or Google or Yahoo or any other service, and my inforouter will gladly consume any return feed and weight it according to the success (or lack of it) that the service provides in improving my results. Proprietary services can play here as well, by providing their unique (and contractually personalized) streams as both a value proposition for advertisers and marketers and as an attractor for more users of their service.

The part of the attention problem I focused on in my previous post was "Based on my reading habits, tell me what new stuff I should read" but Steve Gillmor points out that the next level beyond that is "Based on the reading habits of the people whose opinion I trust, tell me what new stuff I should read". People already do this to a lesser extent by hand today. People who subscribe to Robert Scoble's link blog or various individual RSS feeds in are basically trusting a member of their social network to filter out the blogosphere for them.

Once one knows how to calculate the relative importance of various information sources to a reader, it does make sense that the next step would be to leverage this information collaboratively.

The only cloud I see on the horizon is that if anyone figures out how to do this right, it is unlikely that it will be made available as an open pool of data. The 'attention.xml' for each user would be demographic data that would be worth its weight in gold to advertisers. If Bloglines could figure out my likes and dislikes right down to what blog posts I'd want to read, I find it hard to imagine why the Bloglines team would make that information available to anyone including the user. For comparison, it's not like Amazon makes my 'attention.xml' for books and CDs available to myself or their competitors. 

By the way, why does every interesting wide spanning web service idea eventually end up sounding like Hailstorm?