There are many web sites on the net that know what I like. knows what music I listen to. LibraryThing knows what books I read.  The findory knows what  type of news I like.  Google knows what kind of searches I make.  All of this attention data really should belong to me since this is data about me that is generated by me.  If I go to the iTunes store I should be able to point them to my profile so that iTunes can generate better music recommendations.  If I go to Amazon, I should be able to carry along my taste in books based on my LibraryThing collection.  I should be able to, but right now, I can't.  iTunes doesn't know about the 3 years of music taste data that I've accumulated at, and there's no way for me to tell iTunes about it.  What we really need is a way to make our 'attention data' portable - so I can take the data about what I like and take it with me.  So when I go to a new music store I don't have to start from scratch describing what I like and don't like.  Instead, I can start getting good music recommendations immediately based on my years of accumulated music taste data.  Of course there are lots of issues here - privacy, security and portability don't always mix well.

The Attention Profiling Mark-up language working group is working to define a specification for portable attention data, called APML,  that will make our attention data portable.  The goal is to "boil down all forms of Attention Data - including Browser History, OPML, Attention.XML, Email etc - to a portable file format containing a description of ranked user interests".

This is a brand new working group - it is less than a month old - but it includes some interesting members such as representatives from Scouta, BuzzLogic and Digg.  The current spec at draft level 0.2  is quite thin (really just three pages of content).  In particular, the spec doesn't address specific content types (books, music, movies, blogs).   So this is a perfect time to jump in and offer to help, particularly in the music space where data about attention and taste are so very important. (Via the Scouta blog).


Paul. You hit the nail on the head. Now is a perfect time for people to make sure the spec is headed in the right direction. Obviously at Scouta we believe that "attention data" is going to be very valuable in the future, and we believe that it's even more valuable if people own their own. Everyone's experience will be some much more richer if the data is portable. Cheers for pointing it out. Rich

Posted by Richard Giles on March 27, 2007 at 10:56 AM EDT #

You write: "This is a brand new working group - it is less than a month old" Aren't there other groups working on this problem? Steve Gillmor talks a lot about this. I was at CIKM last year, and this was one of the workshops: It might be good to look into this and join forces, so that there isn't a balkanization of Attention data.

Posted by Jeremy P on March 27, 2007 at 09:20 PM EDT #

Hi Jeremy There are other groups focused on attention (like Steve's attention.xml), but they cover other areas. The APML Group is already working with these, and chatting with people heavily involved so far. As you're pointing out, the last thing we need is competing specs. Rich

Posted by Richard Giles on March 27, 2007 at 10:28 PM EDT #

Moreover, you can check other related links (with Semantic Web flavour) such as: OpenID ( or the FOAF initiative (, As an example, I did a script that integrates data from several user's accounts (such as:, pandora, delicious, flick, and a loong etc.), and automatically extends a user's FOAF profile. More info available at:

Posted by Oscar on March 28, 2007 at 11:38 AM EDT #

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