Friday, October 10, 2008

paying attention

Max made an interesting comment today, citing HP's Social Computing Lab's study, reinforcing his longstanding belief that attention is the currency of user contribution. It made me think about all the ways we pay-- and can be paid attention, and how we can convey it with varying degrees of depth.

We can visit, view, and look; or, we can interact, participate, engage... 

One of the most notable complements to any web technology is the ability to quantify it transparently. We have analytics for our every action, and as this study demonstrates, we're powerfully affected by our awareness of those metrics/ our performance. But what's interesting too is that most metrics consumed at face value lack depth (i.e. visits and views). 

What is the role of engagement in perceptions of attention? Does it matter? In the HP study, they used a Granger causality test to show that attention (as measured by YouTube views) CAUSED productivity (in the form of increased video uploads); and lack thereof actually led people to stop producing content. 

This is a pretty unbelievable testament to social perception. But more to the point, that level of behavioral change-- to produce more content or discontinue producing content-- was all a function of views. Not views and comments, dispersed views, return views, sentiment associated with views, influence of views, etc. Does engagement matter as much as we think?

As bloggers, which analytics are you most affected by? Mere quantity of visits? Furthermore how much does it affect you and your productivity?

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