Data Portability Workgroup: Where are the Non-Web Players?

I read with interest (and even some excitement) this week’s announcement from the Data Portability Workgroup that both Google and Facebook had signed on to (in principle at least) make their users’ social graphs and other information portable across applications. It makes perfect sense that these Web leaders would be among the first to see the future clearly and begin addressing consumers’ rights to own their own data.

Apart from satisfaction at witnessing an early step toward what I see as an inevitable trend toward complete user control over their attention data, my next immediate reaction was, “so where are all the legacy attention players?” As I suggested in my earlier post on mining and remixing your personal data silos, there is much more pattern-rich information in my offline attention data (credit card transactions, landline and cellphone call records, travel records, healthcare records, even utility bills) than there is in my clickstream. But apart from some closed, private research efforts, these offline or legacy players don’t appear to be at the table (or even in the debate) on what consumers’ rights should be to their own history.

When it becomes available, this attention data (and not the manually-created lifecasting content that’s currently all the rage) will form the core of each individual’s personal Memex, helping us quickly identify useful (even lifesaving) patterns in our behavior and choices. But for this idea to achieve its full promise, the old-school bigcos need to join the party.