My Data Should Work for Me

For the past 50 years, we’ve transformed everything from things to bits, from analog to digital – including books, movies, mail, relationships, reputations. We’ve also been generating data at an astounding rate – lots of it – with our smartphones and wearables and online activity. Lots of people get value from our data moving about the digiverse. We should too.

This is what I discussed with thousands of attendees at a short keynote this week at Strata+Hadoop World, based on the work that my team of social scientists has done in this area.

Here’s a tidbit: Recent research shows that more people are willing to share personal information online anonymously if they know the information will bring personal or social benefits. More generally, we find people want to know what information has been collected about them and how it’s being used and shared. We don’t want to go home at night and manage it, but we do want to know it’s not being used against us or to exploit us in any way. This builds trust. We also need to know how to make the best use of data, knowing what it means and creating meaning with it, that is, establishing data literacy.  Having our data and creating value through its secured circulation and sharing can help generate a ‘personal data economy’ that allows for truly personal computing, creating products and services by us and for us. This lets you be more you, a kind of hyper-you, or hyper-individual. It also helps you reach farther, find new connections, be in more collectives, a kind of hyper-collectivity where groups of people unite for common purposes through some aspect of their data.

To realize the ‘personal data economy’, as an industry we need to help consumers build data literacy – making data useful; and data trust – establishing checks and balances in the digital world just like we have in the physical world. We are still in the early stage of a personal data economy and there’s a lot of room for innovation to figure out how this will work technologically and societally to net the promise of big data.

Here’s a video of my 5-minute keynote.  I also sat down with Roger Magoulas, Research Director of O’Reilly Media to discuss these issues.  Share with me your thoughts on how we can make data work for us.