February 28, 2007 4:00 AM PST
A cure for e-mail attention disorder?
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Ross and Leighton Read, a Seriosity co-founder and board member, said they intend for Serios to be a single currency, regardless of which company uses them. That's partly because they understand many employees are contractors who work for several clients and who might eventually want to use Serios they accumulate in multiple corporations.
This means that a so-called secondary market for Serios--perhaps on eBay or other venues--is almost certain to develop as the real value for the currency evolves. That's because some people would be sure to accumulate more than they can use, while others would want more than they have.
That's particularly true, Ross suggested, because while Attent is currently Seriosity's only product, the company sees other future uses for Serios such as auctions of desirable parking spaces, allocation of equipment or prioritization of IT resources.
Naturally, Serios have no value and Attent is meaningless unless Seriosity clients have a significant number of people employing the system.
"A tool like this will only be really effective when it's adopted by a lot of people," said Ron Meiners, who works in developer relations for virtual world platform developer Multiverse Network. "Which means it not only has to be useful, it has to be clearly useful, and popular, so that people will adopt it."
Meiners said he believe the system is "exciting," particularly because of the way Seriosity is attempting to help companies organize social information.
For his part, Nikos Drakos, a research director with Gartner, said he sees Seriosity's system as a "novel approach" to the burgeoning corporate e-mail management problem.
"I think it's very well worth experimenting with it," Drakos said. "I don't know that there's enough evidence that it will have the desired effect. And even if there is, I don't know that Seriosity is the right company."
But he, too, said he found Seriosity's system "exciting" and that he and others at Gartner are keeping an eye on the company to see how Attent works out.
Seriosity, which currently has 12 employees, is functioning off of a $6 million investment by Read's Alloy Ventures and is seeking a second round of funding. The trick for the company will be not only to prove that Attent works, but to manage its newly formed virtual economy.
"It's important because this is an economy, and we don't want to have inflation," Ross said. "We don't know what the (inflation management system) is going to be. We think there will be some taxes on wealth because you don't want people to accumulate Serios."
Ultimately, for Castronova, the creation of a new economy for managing e-mail overload is no different than the creation of any new economy. And that's why he believes the system can work.
"Never again will you read the e-mail warning you to take your food out of the company refrigerator by Friday," Castronova said. "It will be forever relegated to the bottom of your inbox, because with the Serio, you can quickly and easily sort the thousands of messages and read only the ones that they really care about--the ones they put Serios on."
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