our online identities are comprised primarily of three specific kinds of data:
Explicit or prescriptive data (i.e. the data that I input about myself: name, age, occupation, etc.);
Activity or behavioral data (i.e. what I do and say online);
Relationship data (i.e. my social graph and what my connections say about me).
If we consider the power of this pragmatic Web (a highly relevant and individualized Web experience based on the ubiquity of our identity data), we find that it not only impacts individual user experience, but that it opens up entirely new opportunities for business online. The future is not “business as usual.” Business models will be based on what Elias Bizannes of the Data Portability Project calls the “information value network-economic value,” derived from services that focus on activities with comparative advantage and that leverage free access to data.
Consider this: as media companies scramble to identify new and innovative ways to advertise to the sea of nameless, pixeled users who graze through their content each day, a rich supply of highly valuable identity data lies just beneath the surface, left unmeasured and unmonetized.
My love affair with Posterous continues and deepens.
If you haven’t tried it yet send an email with a photo, video, audio file or a link to firstname.lastname@example.org and you’ll be up and running.
M’learned content colleague, Charlie Peverett explains why Posterous is so practically useful, simple and geekily exciting at the same time on the iCrossing blog in a lovely post entitled Posterous and the faff-free future.
A 72-page pdf preview of Business Model Generation is available for free. Ultimately, the full book will be available through Amazon. In the meantime, however, it can be ordered directly at a price of EUR 43 in Europe, USD 62 in the US and Canada, or USD 96 everywhere else; shipping costs (which the book’s creators say will soon come down) are included. One to apply to the creation of *your* next big thing…?
This failure by national papers to report on media matters in the public interest amounts to a conspiracy of silence. And the loser is the public with a right to know just how its self-selected moral guardians act in their own back yard.
Why skin is the new heart and how your neighbors can change the way your feel about your street.
On the trails of yesterday’s fascinating exploration of cities as living organisms, today we look at another piece of high-concept urban portraiture that harnesses the power of art, sociology and technology to a brilliant end.
Since 2004, Christian Nold has been orchestrating Bio Mapping — a crowdsourced community mapping project, which wires people up to Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) devices, detecting their emotional arousal, and sends them on their merry way around the neighborhood. These states are then mapped onto people’s geographic location, creating a visualization of communal emotion.
This is a mind-spinning, gorgeous project that highlights how ubiquitous social web technology will start to make us think about and experience our urban environments differently.
I’ve noticed similar effects just with having an iPhone with reliable location and mapping data on you all of the time. I navigate London very differently, especially. The mapping data has changed how I model it in my head.
Same on the South Downs when I’m mountain biking. I “see” trails and ridges and hills via a Google Earth view almost… I’m making sense of an environment that used to be the background to the road and train system around Brighton in my mental model in a different way. Re-wiring how my brain sees it, cross referencing with computer data and trails/comments that others have made, often online, leaving their trails etc. there…
Sure, even in the huggy ecosystem, companies fight and compete. But in an ecosystem-based economy, companies benefit – they find efficiency and growth – by working collaboratively. As I see it, the new economy and its opportunities will be built in three layers:
1. Platforms. There’s tremendous benefit in building a platform and the more people use to succeed, the more the platform succeeds. Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, eBay – you know all the examples. 2. Entrepreneurial enterprises. Thanks to the platforms, it’s incredibly inexpensive to start new companies. It’s also a helluva lot cheaper to fail (and try again). This is why I believe that the future of news – and many other industries – is entrepreneurial: because it can be. It’s not just media and its bits. It’s manufacturing (because you can use others’ factories and distribution channels and your own customers as your platforms).
3. Networks. It is still necessary to gather the smalls together into bigs: audience brought together so advertisers can buy access to them more easily; purchasing brought together to get better prices. So there is business in creating and serving these networks.
For the sake a PowerPoint, a diagram of the three layers of an ecosystem-based economy:
In our New Business Models for News Project, this is how I (crudely) drew the ecosystem for news.
How do you draw the conglomerate-based industry? With boxes, each separate, with arrows pointing to each other at a distance. Simplistic? Sure, but the change in the worldview of the new economy looks that basic when you hear the two tribes trying to understand each other.
If you don’t know it, Ushahidi is an open source platform for communicating in a crisis. At simplest, it is a way of aggregating text messages, emails, Tweets, blog posts and mainstream media articles to form a clearer picture of what is happening in a fast moving situation, say in a war zone or a natural disaster. It’s also been put to good use in places like the Lebanon and Mexico by people wanting to monitor the fairness or otherwise of their own elections and to help with the effective distribution of vital medicines in Malawi, Kenya, Zambia and Uganda.
So on a geeky level Ushahidi’s obviously fascinating, on a humanitarian level it’s seriously inspiring, but there are lots of other elements of the project which are useful to consider.
Listening to Juliana’s presentation (I understand the videos will be live on the Legatum site soon) and chatting to her in the break, there a few notes I made that I will share here:
Web as witness: This is my take on what Juliana was saying, but I got a sense that by managing information on Usahidi served both as resource for people involved in it but also to put things on the record. As Juliana put it: “If a tree falls in a forest and Google doesn’t hear it, does it make a sound?”. Ushahidi means “testimony” in Swahili – so I guess this purpose has been baked in to the development of the platform.
Spreading social web beyond developed countries: Juliana is interested in how you stop “social media becoming an enclave for developed countries”. There are so many talented developers and creative people in the developing world, and she wants “to invest in those minds”. You can see her point – a massive latent cognitive surplus, to borrow Shirky’s phrase, is in developing countries, with all its incredible potential denied to the networks for now. If I was a VC with a long view, I’d think about heading for Africa…
Mobile is key to connecting the developing world: This is not news, I appreciate, but mobile handsets and access are the way that the developing world can connect right now. As Jared Cohen of the US State Department said in his speech earlier in the day, the economy of Kenya is so reliant on mobile payments that it would collapse tomorrow if you were to remove the GSM network. The mobile is the “default device” for Ushahidi’s developers, said Juliana. She also lamented that Twitter lacks a text message interface [I paraphrase]: “With SMS Twitter could become the pulse of the whole world – not just the developed world.” Now there’s a thought…
Near-realtime filtering: A major challenge for Ushahidi is filtering information as it comes in in near realtime. There may be disinformation from antganists, but also incorrect information, and alot of echo (re-tweets count as this) and maybe spam. Ushahidi uses manual filtering, Akismet and Swift River, a kind of crowd-filtering approach which “rescues data from the river and puts it on the bank”. This process involves a lot of human intervention at the moment, but they are working on algorithms to automate a lot of this.
Realtime media with a slow news legacy?: It strikes me that the combination of fact-checking and contextualising of realtime information is an immediate benefit of Ushahidi, with emergent benefits being that complex data has been curated which can be used by journalists, NGOs and others who want to analyse and learn from a crisis later on. This model is maybe how news organisations need to think about their role. I first heard about Ushahidi via the Al-Jazeera Labs project using the platform during the recent war in Gaza. Is there a case for the BBC to run a similar model when breaking news hits, or for news organisations to cooperate with a Usahidi like model to make sense out their reports and the mix of witness accounts on the ground?
There’s more on this approach in this video, which highlights the danger of rumours in a situation like the Mumbai terrorist attacks:
Swift River looks like it could be a very important development, not just for Ushahidi, for everyone living with the explosion of data brought about by the realtime web. There are obviously lessons here for news organisations and others (i.e. most organisations and communities of interest).
: : One more thought. Friends of mine in NGOs have told me before and the theme came up again yesterday that it is impossible to micropayments efficiently online because of the cost of transactions. That is to say, if I donate £1 to UNICEF online at least 21p of that pound will be lost to the transaction cost in the *best case*. PayPal or Google Checkout should develop a charity / NGO model – imagine how much money could be freed up for NGOs they were able to ask millions of people to send a few pence or cents?