Is this inspiring or terrifying?

I am not sure whether this is the glorious future or a terrible nightmare.  Robert Scoble clearly finds it exciting – but then he’s a Microsoft evangelist from the west coast.   The rest of us can be a bit more cautious:

Zvents is an event page. You tell it that you want to see a football
game this weekend. It gives you a result back. So far, pretty basic
stuff. But, click on an event. See the Google Map? Forget that it’s
Google for now. Let’s call that a Web Buzz Building Gadget.

Now, see the Google Ads over to the right? Let’s call that a Web Monetization Gadget.

So,
here’s the new Silicon Valley business plan. You build a service. Add a
Buzz Gadget (Google/MSN/Yahoo are working on more to come). Add a
Monetization Gadget (Google calls that their Web Advertising Platform —
MSN and Yahoo are working on their own). Mix and mash and we have a
business. Guess what? This business will be very profitable. Why? You
develop it cheaply and if you did your job right, a boatload of people
come and visit your service, like it, keep coming back, and hopefully
they click on the ads (the more they click on the ads, the more money
you make).

Now, that sounds cool, right? But here’s where attention could come in.

What
is Zvents capturing? Well, they know you like football. They know you
probably are in San Francisco this weekend. And, if you click on one or
two of the events, they know you’re interested in them. Now, what if
you see an ad for a pair of Nikon binoculars. If you click on that,
then Zvents would be able to capture that as well.

Now, what
other kinds of things might football fans, who are interested in
binoculars, who are in San Francisco, want to do this weekend? Hmmm,
Amazon sure knows how to figure that kind of problem out, right? (Ever
buy a Harry Potter book on Amazon? They suggest other books for you to
buy based on past customer behavior!!!)

It goes further. Let’s
say this is 2007. Let’s say that Google (or Yahoo or MSN) has a
calendar “branding� gadget out. Let’s say they have a video
“monetization� gadget out. Zvents could build the calendar “branding�
gadget into their page. What would they get out of that? Lots of great
PR, and a Google (or MSN or Yahoo) logo in everyone’s face. But, they
would also know where you’d be this weekend. Why? Cause you would have
added the 49ers football game to your calendar. So, they would know
where you are gonna be on Sunday. And, where you’ll be. And, that you
just bought binoculars. Over time Google/MSN/Yahoo would be able to
learn even more about you and bring you even more ads. How?

Well,
let’s say you’re Starbucks. Let’s say you make a deal with Google to
put Starbucks ads on Google Maps. Let’s say the ads say “$.50 off of
your next latte if you give this code: XZP1.� So, you go into Starbucks
and give them the code. They punch that into the register. It reports
back to Starbucks headquarters that you bought a latte because of the
Google ad. Then, they report back to Google that you bought something
(Starbucks will get a discount on their ads for this kind of reporting).

Now, Google knows you like coffee too. Oh, what Google knows!

It’s
all attention. So, now, what if Zvents and Google shared their
attention with everyone through an API. Now, let’s say I start a new
Web business. Let’s call it “Scoble’s tickets and travel.� You come to
my site to book a trip to London, let’s say. Well, now, what do I know
about you? I know you were in San Francisco, that you like coffee, that
you just bought some binoculars, that you like football. So, now I can
suggest hotels near Starbucks and I can suggest places where you’ll be
able to use your binoculars (like, say, that big wheel that’s in the
middle of London). Even the football angle might come in handy. Imagine
I made a deal with the local soccer team. Wouldn’t it be useful to put
on my page “49ers fans get $10 off European football tickets.�

But,
it gets even better. Now that the system is capturing my attention, and
sharing it, my Web Gadgets (both branding and advertising) get better
over time. They start to thrill me at some point. And, when I go to a
search engine, it can see ALL my attention data and start suggesting
things it thinks I’d like (sorta like Amazon suggests things to me).

Now,
imagine my blog hooked into this attention system. Wouldn’t I get
better ads along the right? Damn straight you would. And, let’s say I
had a weather gadget on the right. Wouldn’t that show you YOUR city?
Yes.

Wouldn’t it be able to see changes in your behavior over
time and bring you even cooler stuff? Let’s say this system watched you
for three years and then you started searching on pregnancy. Or “best
price on diapers.� Or buying books on Amazon with titles like
“Parenting.� And, Flickr could report to the system that you wrote “our
new baby.� Oh, and it could watch everything you type on your blog.

Couldn’t
the system know that you are likely a new parent? Couldn’t it bring up
new kinds of advertising targeted at a new parent?

When I ran
a camera store we sold diapers in our store. Why? So that we could get
new parents into the store. Turns out that new parents buy a TON of
camera gear.

My mind is racing from what you could do with
this kind of data. I’m sitting with Buzz Bruggeman, CEO of ActiveWords.
I bet that even ActiveWords could make use of such attention data.

Now I’m starting to get scared by this kind of world.