Attention Profiling Mark-up Language

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Attention Profiling: APML Beginner's Guide

Attention Profiling

When you browse the web and sign up for various social media services, information is being collected about your interests and tastes. [...]

And when you sign up for social networking websites such as MySpace or Facebook, the explicit information you give - your gender, age, favorite recording artists and so on - is gathered, in addition to the more implicit information about which profiles you visit, or Facebook applications you install.

For the companies involved this is big business - as there are marketing firms willing to pay a lot of money for this sort of information.

Attention Profiling by Michael Pick

APML is a proposed standard that gives you greater control over your own attention data, and in principle will allow you to selectively record your attention profile - the sites you visit, the search terms that interest you most, the content you most commonly link to - and share it with your favorite websites and services.

Attention Data - What It Is and Why It Matters

...consolidated, structured descriptions of people's interests and dislikes. The information about your interests and how much each means to you (ranking) is stored in a way so that computers and web-based services can easily read it, interpret it, process it and pass it on should you request and permit them to do so.

Marjolein Hoekstra

Of course you aren't alone, and whether you like it or not your search habits on Google, the applications you install on Facebook, and the content you write about in your blog are ripe for being "data mined" by those with a vested interest in compiling such information.

APML provides a means that you could personally take control of your information in a consolidated file, to use where you see fit to your own ends and benefit. And at the same time advertisers and content providers are given a much clearer picture of what might interest you, saving you the hassle of wading through irrelevant interruptive marketing, and being presented with information and offers that might very well be worth your taking a look at.


The profile has the form of an XML file. With each site your are visiting you are adding more information to your profile: not only in terms of interest, but also in terms of interest ranking. This way services may be able to serve you with relevant content.

Why Use APML?

The biggest reason you might want to use APML is the sheer amount of information bombarding you every day, and the ratio of signal to noise evident in that information. Because while you may have very specific needs and interests that you want served, it is not always a simple task to locate the information you're looking for.

Furthermore, as advertising is here to stay on the web, it would certainly be a lot better news if the ads you saw were tailor-made to your interests.

[...] Rather than having to go out looking for information in a hit-and-miss way, the information comes to you, and learns over time what interests you most through your acceptance and rejection of the offers served up.

So rather than a generic news website front page where I have to navigate to the sections that interest me, the news site could automatically display a custom set of headlines based on my interests and needs.


More documentation


  • Particls: receiving alerts about the news that interests you
  • Engagd: creating your APML file through your personal selection of RSS feeds. It also allows you to filter your RSS feeds according to your evolving profile. See also this
  • Cluztr: social network based on sharing your clickstream with friends; it an APML file based on your browsing habits, and uses it to automatically generate tags for other users to explore content through