Ghostery

To PIMS or not to PIMS

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So another PIMS app downloaded and I hope this doesn’t end in the same old “meh” feeling I usually get.  There needs to be something more exciting or enticing about this stuff, despite its importance and function in our everyday lives.

I have tried quite a few of these tools/platforms/apps now.  I sign up to them  for research into the realm  of digital privacy, so I can share my findings with others and selfishly to exploit the best method of managing my own data.  Snooze… That’s my point.  How do I successfully drive interest and make people care about understanding what happens to all the data we type into our PCs, Laptops and Smartphones.  Owning this information is incredibly important but no one seems to care…yet.   Despite the recent plethora of “hacking” incidents, the most notable being the Sony Pictures hack, people don’t seem to realize that this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

I have signed up to Mydex, Ghostery, Handshake, PrivacyGrade, The Respect Network and Ello and each time I get really excited because at the core they are all great tools and ideas  that promise some spec of what I am searching for.  Unfortunately so many of these services are amazing in theory but in practice just aren’t particularly practical and perpetuate the  ‘so what’ question. The biggest shortcoming of all is their lack of customer insight which is an interesting paradox considering the nature of this blog!  I wonder how much these companies are talking to their customers and welcoming feedback.  None have followed up with me, and that is odd considering most are in their beta phase and could benefit from a two way conversation with the initial all important “adopters”. People very quickly become disinterested when there is no ‘real’ additional value.

I am getting frustrated at the lack of two way conversation or relationship that I think should come as part of the package. Come on PIMS, I am willing you on!

Which leads me nicely into the new app I just downloaded – CitizenMe,  which seems to be on the right track and has a rather nice gimmicky game like element.

The top 3 benefits of CitizenMe are;

1 – It helps you manage your social network profiles by showing you what your are sharing and quick links to update your settings

2 – It profiles your personality based on your social media content and describes you as others see you

3 – It translates your terms of services and notifies you of changes which includes a traffic light summary letting you know if the changes are good or bad

This is an incredibly easy app to set up and link with your other apps and social networks.  Navigation was also incredibly intuitive and the language was easy to understand – no legalese!  What I found most interesting was my personality profile based on my Facebook content and friends ‘likes’ or comments.  It was scarily accurate, describing my preferences for social occasions better than I could myself.  It got my age very wrong but I am too flattered to care.

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The interface is really cool and the thing most people will be interested in is their personality scoring but after that I fear that the ‘so what’ question could come up again.  How often will I really open this app?  How often will I use it?  What additional value will it give to keep attracting me back, let alone the average person who doesn’t really care about their privacy?

What would make you use a PIMS?

 

 

Digitize Me – pass the control

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So getting started isn’t that easy.  I searched online for ‘Personal Information Management Services’, ‘Data Management Systems’ and ‘Choice Systems’ all threw up a lot of unrelated sites like boat engines, property registries and data warehouse storage.

There were two organisations that I have previously looked into, Mydex and Ctrl Shift  and both offer  good data management services as well as good information. I contacted them for some help.

Ctrl Shift replied with a really interesting paper, ‘Personal Information Management Services: An Analysis of an Emerging Market’.  I will go into more detail about their analysis in my next post but for the ‘Digitize Me’ diary I just wanted to highlight that it included a solid list of PIMS.  What surprised me was the variety of services offered and how specific they were :-

  • Mobile phone usage
  • Group buying service for insurance
  • Car sharing
  • Price comparisons for energy
  • Insights into browser behaviour with options to sell your data
  • Healthcare
  • Privacy management
  • Data management
  • Expenses management
  • Financial dashboards
  • Spending monitors

I went into this thinking I can manage ALL (or at least most) of my data in one place.

All of these are tailored to particular life areas which makes sense but doesn’t that still fragment our data?  It did however, give me a pause to reflect on what I wanted to manage and control.  The main three for me are 1- secure storage and management of my personal data 2 – Insight into my browser behaviour with the option to sell my data and 3 – ability to block companies that I don’t want to track me.  Ideally all of these would be under one umbrella but this is still a new industry.

I have now signed up to two PIMS.  My first choice was with Mydex who had a great vision, mission and values, it is essentially a service to manage my life with a personal data system.  Basically it puts all my information into one place to manage my life better.  Yup this seems wonderful – it can manage my life better!  or realistically it will save me time searching for my personal information and future form filling.  I haven’t yet tried all the applications and reports available on the site but my basic data is now stored and secure.

My second choice was Ghostery who offers three things – alerts to web bugs, pixels and beacons (tracking tools)  in the pages I am browsing.  An education of the companies that implement these trackers on my pages, and the ability to block any of these companies from accessing my data.

It is worth mentioning that both these services are absolutely free.  Ghostery is very open on how it makes money which is through donations of data from those who subscribe.  The data donated is purely data on trackers, such as where the customer found them, the position of them on the page, URL etc.

My next step will be to sign up for PIMS that monitors and gives insight into my browser behaviour; but wouldn’t it be great if all of these services were linked and I just had to go to one place to manage all of it?

Also if anyone knows of any PIMS based in Canada please let me know!