He continues, “People are upset about privacy, but in one sense they are insufficiently upset because they don’t really understand what’s at risk. They are looking only at the short term.” And to him, there is only one viable answer to these potential risks: “You’re going to control your own data.” He sees the future as one where individuals make active sharing decisions, knowing precisely when, how, and by whom their data will be used. “That’s the most important thing, control of the data,” he reflects. “It has to be done correctly. Otherwise you end up with something like the Stasi.”
Sounds a little bit like VRM and a little bit like Jon Udell‘s Thali project. Wearables don’t fix the problem of metadata being collected about you, no. You still don’t control those ingoing/outgoing feeds of information.
Sandy Pentland points out a lot can be derived and discerned simply from the people you know. Every contact in your friend list adds one more bit of intelligence about you without anyone ever talking to your directly. This kind of analysis is only possible now due to the End User License Agreements posted by each of the collecting entities (so-called social networking websites).
An alternative to this wildcat, frontier mentality by data collectors is Vendor Relationship Management (as proposed in the Cluetrain Manifesto) Doc Searls wants people to be able to share the absolute minimum necessary in order to get what they want or need from vendors on the Internet, especially the data collecting types. And then from that point if an individual wants to share more, they should get rewarded with a higher level of something in return from the people they share with (prime example are vendors, the ‘V’ in VRM).
Thali in another way allows you to share data as well. But instead of letting someone into your data mesh in an all or nothing way, it lets strongly identified individuals have linkages into our out of your own data streams whatever form those data streams may take. I think Sandy Pentland, Doc Searls and Jon Udell would all agree there needs to be some amount of ownership and control ceded back to the individual going forward. Too many of the vendors own the data and the metadata right now, and will do what they like with it including responding to National Security Letters. So instead of being a commercial venture, they are swiftly evolving into branches or defacto subsidiary of the National Security Agency. If we can place controls on the data, we’ll maybe get closer to the ideal of social networking and controlled data sharing.
Anybody who can effectively navigate in a corporate environment of a huge software developer and evangelize something like Identity Management, well they have my undivided attention. Most folks treat it like a Directory Service when in fact it’s a free standing kind of thing that any application can subscribe to in order to determine access rights to services individuals grant rights to. I don’t want to live in an Internet that has more Stove Pipes than there were just 6 years ago.
Cameron said in an interview posted on the ID conferences website last month that he was disappointed about the lack of an industry advocate championing what he has dubbed “user-centric identity”, which is about keeping various bits of an individuals online life totally separated.
CRM meet VRM, we want our Identity separated. This is one of the goals of Vendor Relationship Management as opposed to “Customer Relationship”. I want to share a set of very well defined details with Windows Live!, Facebook, Twitter, Google. But instead I exist as separate entities that they then try to aggregate and profile to learn more outside what I do on their respective WebApps. So if someone can champion my ability to control what I share with which online service all the better. If Microsoft understands this it is possible someone like Kim Cameron will be able to accomplish some big things with Windows Live! ID logins and profiles. Otherwise, this is just another attempt to capture web traffic into a commercial private Intraweb. I count Apple, Facebook and Google as Private Intraweb competitors.
Whether it is Twitter or Facebook or what have you, each and every new social networking service is starting to slowly pull back from sharing its data with the world at large. Twitter adherents are crowing about the death of RSS/Atom publish and subscribe feeds open for the whole world to see. Now you need to be a ‘member’ to see anything and I would argue there’s got to be a better way. Let’s start with a published, open spec.
The Facebook Wall is probably the most famous example of an activity stream, but just about any application could generate a stream of information in this format. Using a common format for activity streams could enable applications to communicate with one another, and presents new opportunities for information aggregation.
Remember Mash-ups? I recall the great wide wonder of putting together web pages that used ‘services’ provided for free through APIs published out to anyone who wanted to use them. There were many at one time, some still exist and others have been culled out. But as newer social networks begat yet newer ones (MySpace,Facebook,FourSquare,Twitter) none of the ‘outputs’ or feeds of any single one was anything more than a way of funneling you into it’s own login accounts and user screens. So the gated community first requires you to be a member in order to play.
We went from ‘open’ to cul-de-sac and stovepipe in less than one full revision of social networking. However, maybe all is not lost, maybe an open standard can help folks re-use their own data at least (maybe I could mash-up my own activity stream). Betting on whether or not this will take hold and see wider adoption by Social Networking websites would be risky. Likely each service provider will closely hold most of the data it collects and only publish the bare minimum necessary to claim compliance. However, another burden upon this sharing is the slowly creeping concerns about security of one’s own Activity Stream. It will no doubt have to be an opt-in and definitely not an opt-out as I’m sure people are more used to having fellow members of their tribe know what they are doing than putting out a feed to the whole Internet of what they are doing. Which makes me think of the old discussion of being able to fine tune who has access to what (Doc Searles old Vendor Relationship Management idea). Activity Streams could easily fold into that university where you regulate what threads of the stream are shared to which people. I would only really agree to use this service if it had that fine grained level of control.