Tag Archives: Gnomedex

Venn and the art of data-sharing

I come to the VRM world from a tradition (if that’s the right word) of digital identity management. With so many organizational efforts swirling around trying to create identity layers, data portability, metasystems, and suchlike, I kept noticing that there was a common set of bedrock features involving human beings and the networked apps they use. And, yes…I saw it as a Venn diagram.

I’ve been trying this out on folks for a while now, and used it in a couple of recent talks, particularly my Gnomedex 8.0 one. Here’s my thinking behind it. (This is more than a straight Venn because of the metaphorical shadow thingie. Couldn’t resist! My web services Venn “cheated” too.)

Digital identity management is, at base, about identification so app usage can be correlated and audited, authorization to provide secure controlled access, and personalization, all counterbalanced by privacy. It has a strong individual (single-human-to-app) bent, though sometimes it involves Shibboleth-style scenarios where you mostly track anonymous group members rather than unique people.

Social networking is about building feelings of connectedness and offering the benefits of collaboration, such as crowdsourcing. Social apps focus on human-to-human relationships, but to provide infrastructure for this, they have to do plenty of the human-to-app variety. Social networking today stresses revelation of personal details (the OpenSocial best practices doc is one example) much more than it stresses privacy, though the latter is an increasing concern.

VRM partly involves what could be called restriction of data flow — undoing vendors’ grip on users’ info in a way that’s familiar to proponents of privacy-enhanced and user-controlled IdM. But other VRM scenarios involve enhancement of individuals’ opportunities to share personal information, for example by issuing a personal RFP to potential vendors. As Doc Searls has said, VRM is “personal first and social second”, so it seems to have a closer kinship with digital identity but could provide new social opportunities as well.

Each area has its unique features. But all share a common trait — differentiated app behavior depending on special aspects of you (whether this comes from attributes, claims, and transactional details in IdM; social graph data and user-generated content in social apps; or proactive requests and other personal data offered up in VRM). And to deliver on this promise they all share a common requirement — knowing more about you, with permission.

By contrast, where apps know about you through improper data gathering or aggregation, you get digital shadow effects — like direct marketing that is distinctly not permissioned or welcomed. Today, permissioning is still something of an art rather than a science, hence the title of this post.

We have a number of infrastructural options that more or less satisfy the requirements of the intersection, and later I hope to provide further thoughts on that. For now, I hope you’ll let me know what you think of this new instance of John Venn’s invention.

The swinging shindig that was Gnomedex 8.0

What a trip my first Gnomedex was — I think I’m hooked. It’s Chris’s happening, baby, and it freaks him out! (Think he can be convinced to dress up full-Austin next time? I did notice a bit of a shiny-jacket trend in the crowd.)

Lots of people have done roundups, so I’m mostly going to be lazy and point to Beth Kanter‘s, which gives a great sense of the breadth, the depth, the value, and the occasional silliness of this event. I was very glad to meet Beth and to see her demonstrate, right in front of our eyes, the principles she was teaching. Really, the two-plus days were a virtual parade of interesting people, compelling stories, and cool tech.

Speaking of virtual… Gnomedex’s sheer level of online+meatspace social connectedness was something new for me. The 8.0 community feeling started early, with the @gnomedex Twitter feed. It continued with the conference badges that came with a social network. It got really strong while several hundred people watched the conference from home on the video feed (archive) and hung out on Twitter or in Chris’s chat room. (I daresay this feeling wouldn’t have been possible without the single-track setup.) And it continues even now. I mean, I tweet, and I speak at conferences, but I’ve never before sat down after giving a talk to find that dozens of people — some in the same room and others a world away — have just started following me. Delighted to meet you all! (Admittedly, I also exchanged business cards with some folks during coffee breaks, the old-fashioned way.)

I’ll post some thoughts later about my talk on online data-sharing relationships. But, staying “meta” for now, I’ll just send you to one more roundup, Micah Baldwin’s 3 Rules of Gnomedex 8.0, which I think nicely captures what made it special. Quoting will just spoil it, so just go ye and read…