AttentionTrust: Owning your Data

I just joined AttentionTrust, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the basic rights of “attention owners.” In short, they fight for the right of individuals to own and control the information about them that is aggregated from online activities. From their site:

Attention is the substance of focus. It registers your interests by indicating choice for certain things and choice against other things. Any time you pay attention to something (and any time you ignore something), data is created. That data has value, but only if it’s gathered, measured, and analyzed. Right now, you generally lack the ability to capture that data for yourself, so you can’t benefit from it. But what if you could? And what if you could share your data with other people, who were also capturing their own data, or if you could exchange your data for something of value with companies and other institutions that were interested in learning more about the things that interested you? You’d be in control–you would decide who has access to what data, as well as what you’d accept in exchange for access to your data.

By becoming a member of AttentionTrust, I am agreeing that people have the following rights:

  • Property: You own your attention and can store it wherever you wish. You have CONTROL.
  • Mobility: You can securely move your attention wherever you want whenever you want to. You have the ability to TRANSFER your attention.
  • Economy: You can pay attention to whomever you wish and receive value in return. Your attention has WORTH.
  • Transparency: You can see exactly how your attention is being used. You can DECIDE who you trust.

And I agree to support their mission:

  • Empower people to exert greater control over their “attention data,” i.e. any records reflecting what they have paid attention to and what they have ignored. We accomplish this by promoting the principles of user control, by distributing our Attention Recorder, and by supporting the development of other appropriate tools, standards and practices.
  • Educate people about the value of their attention and the importance of attention data.
  • Build a community of individuals and organizations that will guarantee users’ rights to own, move, and exchange their attention data, in a transparent environment that gives users the freedom to decide how their data will be used.

[discovered via Mary Hodder]


  1. I was just turned on to AttentionTrust and Attention recorder though a nice e-mail from David Seelow over at Opposable Mind (

    This is very exciting.

    Frankly it is similar to what google is doing by allowing you to search your history, but it adds a whole new dimension and level of personal control.

    I am very excited to see where this goes and I can wait to start mining some of my data.

  2. Yes, it is definitely a step beyond Google’s My Search History since Google doesn’t allow me to see all the data they collect, nor do I really own that data in the sense that I can control how Google uses it, who else can use it, or essentially remove it from Google servers and take it with me to some other search engine provider. Perhaps AttentionTrust can help make these desires a reality.

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