Personal Information Management

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?

 

 

Take back your privacy – Get Some Gusto

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“In digital era, privacy must be a priority. Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?” Al Gore

I read an interesting article on research-live today about a YouGov study that indicates that over 30% of people in the UK have deleted apps on their phone due to worries that their information is being sold or over-used.

It makes me ask myself if Europe is ahead of the curve not only in individuals concerns over privacy but more importantly the movement to get consumers to take control of their data.  When researching online I find much more information coming from organisations like Mydex or Ctrl-Shift who are based in the UK; not to mention European data protection laws being the most stringent in the world.

I was at an entrepreneur event in North Carolina last week and was speaking to company who had developed a PIMS app (personal information management services).  This app acts like a broker for individuals who wish to sell their own personal information which is collected passively on their phone.  It also gives the individual the ability to decide what  information can and cannot be sold which would automatically adjust the overall value.  A very smart tool that gives the individual complete transparency, control and reward.  The problem is the chicken and the egg; do you build a crowd of people before you have clients to sell the data to, only to risk losing them because there is no one bidding for their data?  Or do you need the client investment first which is hard considering you don’t have anything to sell yet?

There needs to be more gusto from the consumer in order for this to be solved, and this requires education about our privacy and what is currently happening with our data.  With this knowledge will come the customer desire for change, as the customer changes so too does the industry.

This is where I see the UK, quite frankly, kicking some butt in terms of education and forward thinking.  If I am wrong and you are aware of more high profile agencies in the Americas I would love to hear about them.

 

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Don’t get caught with your knickers down

For those of you who haven’t heard this story (and I can’t imagine how you would  have missed it), poor Jennifer Lawrence unfortunately was literally caught with her knickers down.  Her iCloud was hacked and some very naughty and very naked pictures went viral!  It wasn’t just Jennifer but over one hundred other celebrities; a bug was found in the security and all their personal information including videos and images were accessible.

It highlights why you should care about your personal information and take some control because in the race for convenience and ease of use we have forgotten about our privacy and making sure it is secure.

We can’t always avoid being cyberpunked but there are some basic questions you should be asking your cloud provider and I came across this helpful guest blog post on ComputerWeekly.com  by Mike McAlpen who is the Executive Director of Security and Compliance and Data Privacy at 8×8 Solutions.  In summary:-

5 Questions to ask your cloud provider

1 – Are they compliant with EU/EEA/US standards?

2 – Will they forward or share your information with third parties?

3 – Do they have the capability to encrypt sensitive data when it is being transferred across the Internet and importantly again when it is ‘at rest’?

4 – Does the provider allow you to access, edit or delete your information?

5 – Do they have Service Level Agreements within your contract?  As the article says, there is no point have a privacy contract with a supplier if there is no penalty when they fail to deliver!

If you have further checks for information security please add a comment.

The Wonderful Wizards of Advertising

Diet products and supplement advertising is really a sordid and manipulative industry.  I have fallen for it with the Wild Rose diet and I bought the Atkins book (he was a doctor wasn’t he?).  Yes they worked but because there wasn’t much that I wanted to eat from the permissible food list; hence I ate less.  But are they sustainable?  Hell no, I like my chocolate, cheese, bread, pasta…..

What does this have to do with us controlling our personal information?  The more companies know about you the more they can target you specifically through your current emotion or activity.  For example on Facebook you can put in your status how you are feeling (this is coded for easy analysis by the way), reading, eating, watching etc.  If you were to put in ‘feeling sad’ and ‘eating cake’ you are probably going to be targeted for the Garcinia Cambogia pill or chair gym – yep you can look fabulous without leaving your chair!  What we buy is an emotional thing, we are not really the rational beings we think we are when buying stuff, if it isn’t emotional that it is probably habit.

I was being completely irrational and very emotional when buying the Wild Rose and Atkins books.  I have never believed in diets, I don’t like diets and I always scoff at others who do them so what made me do this?  I am so bombarded by images in advertising that makes me feel bad but gives me hope, there is a wide range of feelings that weight loss advertising evokes in me.

1 – Fear, although not overweight I am a bit of an apple shape which apparently puts me at higher risk of heart disease!  I don’t want to get heart disease

2 –Insecurity.  Images of young, beautiful and happy girls with the perfect body!  Yep I want that!  I want to wear a bikini and run down the beach with confidence without feeling my belly rise and fall at the opposite time to the rest of my body

3 – Living the dream.  These ads make me feel like I can’t be truly happy until I get down to that perfect weight (for me that is 115lbs – ridiculous).  Anyone who doesn’t think they would be happier if they were thinner are in the minority.  For me it’s like buying the lottery ticket and imagining what I will do with the winnings.  With being thinner I imagine all the wonderful clothes I would wear and all the places I would wear them.  Super happy and super confident.

4 – Dazzled by science.  There is always a new study or a new specialist out there who wants to tell us a new quick fix to getting the perfect bod!  It must be true its science; these pills really will speed up my metabolism or absorb the fat so that it isn’t absorb into our bodies and I get to eat what I want.

5 – Trust– Well Doctor Oz said its true so it must be right?  Celebrities and celebrity doctors are in our homes through the TV, we think we know them and we think we can trust them.  We have either seen them work off their own weight and have found that miracle or they are doctors who we have already put on the pedal stool of honesty.  This was never more perfectly ripped to pieces than by John Oliver on Last Week Tonight.  I hope you watched the video not only because it is so hilarious but also because ‘Morning Joe’ so beautifully epitomizes how irrational we are.

 

 

 

PIMS – Tune In, Maybe Turn On and Probably Drop Out

I understand the concept of PIMS (Personal Information Management Services), I understand the benefits and partly because of this blog I am motivated to invest my time signing up to a few, after all it is something I have come to feel passionately about.   The question is will the majority of others feel the same?  Now that I have joined 5 different PIMS I Speed-Bump-Signs-80549-bahave some good reasons to think that people will at first tune in maybe turn on but probably drop out.

The Trade Off

Currently there is little effort on our part, others are managing our data for their benefit and we are generally unaware of it being aggregated, analysed and reported on.  There are a network of beacons and trackers that connect all our dots and our time remains intact, in fact it saves us time in bill payments and online searches.  But if you want to manage your own data all of sudden there is quite a bit of work to be done.  When I stored my basic information I had to hunt round looking for my social security, passport, house insurance, household bills, address history, car details, residency card etc.  It took me over an hour and from now on I need to maintain it and update it when necessary.  Then there are the PIMS I joined that are social platforms, these require sign up and several verifications which although simple have more steps than other established networks.  Others required downloading software, sign up and data entry too.

It doesn’t matter what type of PIMS you join, there is an education process that simply takes time; learning what the organisation does, how the system works, signing up and navigating the dashboards.  I think PIMS need to consider how much time a individual is going to give up because each of us will be weighing up our time vs risk or time vs benefit and currently I am still asking how this is making my life easier.

The Intangibles

I am not sure anyone has an emotional response to data management, it really isn’t a sexy subject unless it has government conspiracy stamped on it.  I am not sure that it has yet hit the public what it really means when companies use our data, it is still too intangible.  We can grasp the fraudulent sale of our data or identity theft but targeted marketing? others profiting? better decision making?  Even with the latest Facebook emotional experiment, there wasn’t a mass exodus of people incredulous at the manipulation of our emotional behaviour.  It is all too vague and we are still detached, think of it like white collar crime – when does it get the front page or the crime wave title that more tangible violent crime does.

What are PIMS?

Very few people have heard of PIMS or data management services, and those that I have joined so far do not make it easy.  I have watched a lot of YouTube videos, read a lot of PDF’s and used the help button several times figuring all of this out, others will not.  Companies are not setting themselves up as a service provider but more of a software provider and that is a huge challenge for a beginner.  I would have loved a service rep to give me a call and talk me through it all.  Better still a service where I can give my approval to an organisation who will then connect to other networks and pull my data for me; even provide me with reports, updates or offers. If these services are relying on word of mouth to gain awareness then there needs to be better benefits and more ease.

What’s in it for me?

So far, not much.  Time spent on searching and signing up to all these services? I would guess about 4 hours.  In return I can block companies tracking my online behaviour – in chrome only and I have a central database with all my basic details. But mostly it is still a promise of better things to come; reports on my online behaviour to help me make better decisions, a ‘respect’ button to ensure other sites that I log in to keep my data personal, additional applications in a central dashboard and finally potential to profit from my personal information.  This is all very good but it is still just a concept without enough tangible gain.  I hesitate to make a final judgement because the industry is still young, but it is important it is addressed early in order to engage and hold on to customers.

It’s complicated

When do we store our data, where do we store our data and how do we store our data?  All of these questions are tricky, not only to the individual but those seeking to store it for us, and it is not just our online data it is our offline activity too and it is very hard to keep track of.  With all these items or instances the data accumulates at a rapid pace and important items can get lost amongst the trivial, this requires ad hoc tidying and clerical archiving requiring certain skills and someones time.  How are these management services going to integrate all our data in a uniform interface with a structure that makes it easy for us to reference or query?

Are these the only issues? Please share your concerns or reasons for not trying a personal data service.

In this article I have referenced a great book called ‘Personal Information Management’ edited by William Jones and Jaime Teevan.  If you want to learn more it is a great resource!

The Economy of One

Intention EconomyRead ‘The Intention Economy” by Doc Searles,  it inspires hope for customers in the not so distant future.  As marketing and research departments look to big data to predict how we want to spend our hard earned cash, we are looking to get personal.  Personal in a way that we the individual can set the terms, and just advertise for what we want.

Think of yourself as a business that puts out a request for a product or service and sellers respond or compete for your custom.  Let me put it more simply.  Imagine I am planning a vacation; one week in August with three of my best girl mates; destination-beach, and hotel with a spa, all for a reasonable budget .  Forget browsing for full package holidays, car rental, flights, comparison websites, travel agents etc. all I want to do is advertise and let the sellers come to me with an array of options – I pick the best one.  Job done!

I have only just started ‘The Intention Economy’ but I am already inspired by this revolution that is made possible by managing our data.  If we are kitted-out with all our data we can dictate a lot more than we realise, getting to grips with our information allows us to

– Make better choices

– Express demand

– Set preferences

– Offer payment terms

– Define the relationship with the seller

“Over the coming years, customers will be emancipated from systems built to control them.  They will become free and independent actors in the marketplace, equipped to tell the vendors what they want, how they want it, where, and when – even how much they would like to pay” Doc Searls

I am really looking forward to reading all the other possibilities, using our data as the tool, I also look forward to sharing more with you!

Let me know if you pick up this book and what your thoughts are, I really want to know if this is something that you the customer would like to realise

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!

 

Digitize me – hitting the road

The Path (2)Today I started my road trip looking for a PIMS (Personal Information Management Service).  So far for Canada I have found PIMS but not really what I am looking for.  There is the ‘Pacific Institute for Maritime Sciences’ and the ‘Pontifical Institute for Mediaeval Studies’ but I am pretty sure they wont be managing my data.

My next stop was to try searching in the UK and found Mydex.  Mydex provides a secure data storage system for individuals to manage all their personal information.  Think about it, we have our health and prescription records, financial transactions, purchase data, digital activity (and so much more) floating out there somewhere and to access all of this takes time and has cost.  Take two minutes to watch their video it clearly outlines the purpose and some of the benefits.