Featured Image: source wethedata.org Time Magazine Cover

So why is every service on the internet more or less offering you free access to their service, post your photos, share your memories, videos and pretty much everything in-between? … Yes, you guessed it right, its your Data.

Multi-billion dollar businesses like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat etc have been built with the above premise. If you get connected through the above platforms then chances are the platforms get to use your likes, behaviour, preference, memories and everything that you share to capture value for the company. They have done a fabulous job of that as well. There is value in the service they offer and I agree that I get value by being connected to my network and learning what my friends are doing and liking the pictures and articles that my network shares with me. Here is the kicker, the aggregation of my likes, my beliefs, my photos, my videos and my articles is nothing but Data to the A.I engines that are currently in use and more sophisticated ones to be built as more and more data is going to be available.

So, what is the downside of this you ask? I don’t know about you but my Facebook feed and Twitter feed is starting to really justify and validate my beliefs whether they are true or false, because the algorithms have more or less figured out what I want to see and pretty much show me that. I now feel like I am living in a bubble. I actually think this sucks big time. I can sense why people are going on digital sabbaticals. We don’t like too much of anything, you remember the time when you over-indulged during Thanksgiving and told yourself that you are never going to eat again? Yep, that has happened to me a couple of times and that is what is happening to the Internet as we know it.

In addition to the over-saturation, I think we are starting to go down a slippery slope where our data is being used to manipulate us. I have said this before and I will say it again, the easiest person to fool is myself. If you have not been following all the media and news outlets talking about Fake News, then you are truly in a bubble. Fake news is here, it works and it actually pays really well. So, be ready for a deluge of false information based on how you see the world. This is again a problem. I don’t know about you but I am getting sick and tired of this.

What do we do about this? I have taken some practical steps, I have more or less stopped spending too much time on any of the social media platforms. I use it sparingly when I need to. I also started exploring if there is a better way to solve this problem. I think the answer is a new way of thinking around Personal Data. What if every company in the world believes that the key to unlocking the potential of Personal Data is to empower the individual whose information it is. That’s us – the consumers, the customers, the users. We the people. When we hold and control our own data it can do so much more for us than when it’s scattered and locked away as a company asset.

We can learn more about ourselves and our lifestyles. We can put our information to work, helping us make better choices and live better lives. Our data has inherent value to us. Ironically, that is what the companies are trying to do create value for their customer so they will continue to be their customer. The companies are trying to find the diamond in the coal mine of Big Personal Data using machines, algorithms, analytics and business intelligence software. Rather than trying to figure out what we want and need by guessing, what if organisations that want to see our personal information, accept and respect the simple fact that if they open the door to a personal data economy that is simpler, fairer and more efficient they will actually get what they really want. This engagement between the customer and companies is simply better because it revolves around the single most important part of it – the individual. This is what is called the Internet of Me.

unspecifiedWhen companies start sharing the information back to the individuals, I think valuable things can be built by mashing together disparate data sets. For example, if your bank releases all your transaction data back to you and offers a credit worthiness app that actually does not try to make the process of getting credit harder, would that not be a valuable service to you? No more visiting the bank, just do the right behaviour, increase your credit score and be approved for credit without spending anytime assembling all the data needed by your or any financial institutions. This is one of the many use cases that can be built once the Personal Data Ecosystem evolves. It creates opportunities for startups and entrepreneurs to build valuable services on top of this Personal Data network.

I think this is exciting, we can actually see and use our own data and we get to control it? we get to control the exchange of value? Yes, we can. Here is how I started going down the rabbit hole of Personal Data Economy and the Ecosystem. I met Andrew Carmody by an introduction and he was curious about what I was doing in Iceland and wanted to learn more about Startup Iceland. I was curious why was this investor is spending so much time taking to many institutions and companies in Iceland. I got to learn that Andrew has been working with Digi.me and he was looking to build an ecosystem around Personal Data and the Digi.me team narrowed down their list of countries to Iceland and Estonia. Iceland won out and he was looking to develop this concept further.

unspecified-2I invited Andrew to participate in Startup Iceland 2016 in our investor panel and Andrew did. We started talking further and there are some exciting developments coming out of this. As always you will be the first to learn about it when the ideas take shape. In the meanwhile go and download Digi.me, it has a simple use case, the app allows you to get a copy of all your photos from any and all the social networks. In addition to that it enables you to search on those pictures. You can see whose pictures you liked the most, and who liked your pictures etc. It is quite intuitive. I learned a couple of things using the Digi.me app, there a couple of my friend who are no that engaged on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter so they have liked very few of my pictures. You know who you are and I will be reaching out to you. Here is a video of the vision of Digi.me.