Portals and Attention Management

February 15, 2007 at 1:33 pm | Posted in Attention Management, portals | Leave a comment

A Line56 article called The Distraction Economy seemed to be a standard romp through the info-stress and information fatigue issue (subtitle is “Continuous partial attention is a cry for help; don’t overburden cognitively fatigued knowledge workers”), but my ears perked up when it got to portals:

One potential fix comes in the form of the portal. Predefining what knowledge workers do, and what kinds of information they need, and then feeding the relevant data into a portal, is, in my mind, an excellent first step. Creating a unified and contextual template from which you can’t “surf” away is, in my personal experience, a powerful productivity booster.

This gives me an opportunity to mention my thoughts on how portals relate to attention management.

First, per my previous posting, the word “portal” is fluffy so I hesitate to say “portal” fixes anything without any more specific description.

I think some of the core features of what I consider portal infrastructure and the portal UI certainly apply to attention management. The idea of having profiled users, access to many content, data, and application sources, then an assembly engine that can bring just the information of interest to that user at that point in time is highly applicable to attention management. I’m talking about personalization and customization.

Still, it’s too extreme to say that it’s a “fix”. It would be much more accurate to say portals can help address AM. And while it is a unified and contextual template, of course you can surf away from it unless you’ve found some way to lock down the browser.

Also, back to my attention management conceptual architecture, there are many technologies that help to pull important messages forward and push less important messages back. Personalized portals help with that, but there are many other technologies that do too.

That was the point of the AM conceptual architecture – to provide a way to put all the technologies in context and to avoid saying any one technology fixes the whole problem. They all have their place.


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