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Letter from Lotusphere 2011

By Craig Roth | January 31, 2011 | 0 Comments

Attention Management

Lotusphere 2011 is in full force and the faithful have returned to Orlando.  With so many of the attendees sporting the black and yellow backpacks handed out at registration, the buffet lines resemble a swarm of bees in a hive.  IBM continued the tradition of an opening performance whose goal seems to be to wake you up at any cost.  I’m wondering if starting later and letting attendees get an extra hour of sleep might be more effective.

There was a humorous moment when a speaker about an hour into the keynote announced we were now going to see some live code demo and a primal “YESSS!!!!” erupted from an attendee somewhere in the crowd.  To me, this represented the overwhelming desire of the technical folks to get past marketing-speak about being more social or speakers (although Kevin Spacey was quite lively and enjoyable) and onto something real that would change their work lives in the next 6 months.

IBM is placing a big bet on activity streams in 2011.  My excitement is in check until I get a better understanding of the attentional characteristics of the activity home page.  Aggregating myriad real-time information sources is indeed a technical accomplishment.  But for that stream to be useful, the aggregation point has to help the user prioritize.  And the aggregation point probably can’t do that very well without assistance (in the form of understandable metadata) from the applications that feed it.  Miguel Estrada in the integration session described the point of the activity home page to manage the river of news to provide better attention management (kudos for using the more businesslike AM term rather than invoking “information overload”).  Great – so what attention management capabilities will be provided?

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