Each one of us generates vast amounts of data – email, phone calls, social networking, photos, text messages, videos, browsing, purchasing and more.
Our data create a new form of identity, what you might call a Virtual Self – a concept that will determine the future of the web.
This virtual identity, and all of the bits of data that comprise it, has become an incredibly valuable form of currency – it’s the way the web exchanges value.
Companies aggregate your data in order to deliver advertising, commerce, content, and services to you – worth billions of dollars.
But who owns this data? Who owns your Virtual Self?
Right now, the identity wars are dominated by Facebook, Twitter, and Google – firms that have become what Mashable calls “large-scale consumer identity providers (a.k.a. IdP’s).”
“There’s a great burden placed on identity providers to police the media companies that connect with their users,” Robyn Peterson writes in a recent post. “There’s also a great burden on media companies to fulfill and not violate the trust of their end-users, and to behave appropriately.”
Right now, we’re all complicit in the creation of this Virtual Self -- we use our Facebook or Twitter account to sign in to other websites, which in turn use the components of your identity to construct their content.
We do it willingly. In exchange for data about our friends, locations, interests, behavior, and preferences, we get content served to us that seems eerily relevant -- courtesy of the companies whose algorithms process the bits of our virtual identities.
Of course we’ve seen flare-ups over privacy and identity, but they haven’t changed the trend for consumers to share our Virtual Self, which is getting pretty comprehensive.
Own Your Own Data
“It represents our actions, interests, intentions, communications, relationships, locations, behaviors, and creative and consumptive efforts,” according to The Locker Project, a non-profit start-up unveiled last week as part of a set of initiatives aimed at allowing people to have “ownership over their personal data and clear control over how it’s protected and shared.”
I love their slogan: “Data is Life. Own Yours.”