Srinivas Reddy’s Weblog

My Tech Rants

What is your Data worth anyway?

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Two recent events made me think more deeply on the value of (personal) data. Trying to access facebook on mobile device, facebook needed me to validate this access on my PC as a security measure. As part of my validation I had to identify lot of photos of my contacts (interestingly some where unknown!) to verify my identity. In a Techtalk on ‘Graph Databases and NoSQL’ the speaker had made a interesting observation on how Mobile device could be used as a peer to exchange personal data between contacts as a alternative to public social networking sites (read facebook).  Lessons for me is that all (personal) public data on the web will be used for commercial purposes (in all possible ways), there is a need for a more managed way to share (personal) data and there is a lot of value in (personal) data that we need to smartly harness.

Reading a recent obituary of personal finance startup, its notable that focus of most web 2.0 companies is to make it as easy as possible for users to digitalize content/data. While the business models of most of these companies (be it google, twitter, yahoo,..) are built around leveraging user generated content/data, the value that users themselves get from it in comparison is peanuts. While we see firms getting increasingly good at aggregating data for users in specific domains (be it itunes for music, youtube for videos, flickr for photos, twitter for tweets, google for documents, facebook for social network…), the end-user is really leaving a web trail that for one creates data silos and for other raises serious privacy concerns. Given the increasing mobile usage we will only make this problem more acute (what with services such as google googles, location based services like foursquare,…). Increasing incentives will be paid for sharing your personal data which raises the question of what is your data worth anyway and how best can you manage it? Given that your reputation is at stake its worth some serious attention.

While its widely understood that ‘Data is the Intel inside’ the need for smart data management solutions that can leverage historic and real-time data are crucial for personal data just as it is for enterprise data. There are some interesting projects worth to note here ( the history of research in this area dates to ‘Memex’ related article in 1945 by Vannever Bush). ‘Graph your inbox’ is a example service on how can do more with your email by harvesting them to understand your email activity. ‘MyON-ID’ is a sample service to manage your identity online.  ‘Poyozo’ is another interesting tool that helps you make sense of your data by aggregating your data from different data sources. Its amazing how easy it is to look up public data on the web (thanks to google) but how difficult it is to find your personal data spread across different digital devices. While tools such as desktop search help the holy grail to find the right information at the right time will remain unsolved problem for sometime to come.

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Written by srinivasreddy

October 9, 2010 at 7:25 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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