APML, OpenAuth, OpenSocial, VRM, Attention and Intention

Over at On the Pod, Duncan Riley hosts a rambling but intriguing chat about APML and its relationship with the latest Social Network developments:

Ashley Angell, Chris Saad (Faraday Media) and Jon Cianciullo (Cluztr) join Duncan Riley to discuss APML, OpenAuth, OpenSocial and how we are moving towards open data sharing.

Even with the audio problems, it is worth listening to the whole bit. There is a great, concise analysis of the real value and limitations of OpenSocial, but my ears perked up especially when Chris endorses VRM and, more importantly, connects the success of APML to its role in providing user control over Attention data.

I have said several times that Attention efforts are missing the big win, digerati conversations about the “Attention Economy” notwithstanding. Getting your attention without providing value is annoying. We will soon see the impact of that as people begin to react to Facebook’s latest innovations in advertising.

It sounds redundant to say it, but the real goal for people is to realize our Intentions. That’s what “intention” means. We put our energy and will into realizing our intentions. Attention just happens to be how we filter out the signal from the noise. It does not inherently translate to value for anyone. In fact, distracting your attention is a key skill of politicians, magicians, and con-men everywhere. So, it isn’t about “Attention.” It’s about “Intention.”

The opportunity, then, for service providers and software vendors is to provide tools for individuals to manage their Intention. Solve that while facilitating vendors’ goals–because many, but not all, Intention activities are directly monetizable in a transaction–and you have a service or product that can generate serious value for everyone involved.

That’s the promise of VRM.

As I’ve mentioned before, VRM–or Vendor Relationship Management–is at the core of SwitchBook’s approach to tools for Complex Search. Our involvement in that effort has transformed how we think about Search, advertising, and online marketplaces.

VRM’s mandate is straightforward: Enable buyers and sellers to build mutually beneficial relationships. The vast majority of online buyer/seller relationships include Complex Searches prior to a transaction and the bigger the transaction amount, the more effort that goes into the Search and therefore, the more important and useful the tools provided to individuals. We see a direct link between providing people control over their online Searches and enabling them to have richer, more rewarding relationships with vendors. To us that means simplifying how people realize their Intentions online by connecting them with the right resources more efficiently and more credibly.

What is intriguing about the podcast is the endorsement of VRM and the related commitment to empowering user choice through APML tools. Whatever words we use to describe it–“Attention” or “Intention”–increased user control is definitely part of the solution.

As Attention becomes more and more shaped to be responsive to user choice rather than a smart database of people’s online behavior, and the more it empowers both explicit expressions of interest and the implicit meaning we can glean from people’s clickstreams, the closer Attention comes to Intention.

To be fair, much of what we are doing with Intention incorporates a lot of Attention data. So, while there are still some key distinctions, it is good to see APML folks talking about VRM in a way that suggests a fruitful convergence is not so far away.

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