Data is generated everywhere we go nowadays. From what temperature it is outside, to the friends we meet to what kind of stuff we buy with our credit cards. Our behaviours and environments are increasingly mapped more and more and then stored away often somewhere where few have access.
In some sense data is amongst the most valuable things in todays society. It’s like the ore of yesterday, you have to mine it from somewhere. After the data has been mined you have to extract it and make into more useful information. Then after the information has been combined and recombined you get precious knowledge.
I would argue that there is essentially two forms of data. The first form is generated from the natural processes that occur around us. Most people would consider this normal. It is something that we have done for ages, to measure and refine our methods.
The other form of data is of social nature and generated from the various social interactions that happen everyday. One of the reactions to personal or rather social data is that it intrudes on people’s privacy. Another argument is that the data you generate should in fact be for you to decide what to do with, similar to the rights you have with a written text of yours. There is even a draft of a social network users’ bill of rights that goes more in depth and proposes fundamental rights for how data and similar issues should be handled.
At the core is of course that you should be able to decide over your own data. There are two aspects that I particularly want to highlight. First the value of data more often than not lies within the social connection. Therefore the other party should have an equal right in the decision of how the data is handled.
Secondly, is the that the decision-making process in how data should be handled is crucial. The current standard procedure when joining any social network or site that handles any type of data is that you get Terms Of Service at least 10 pages long. Most people don’t speak legalize and would not even bother reading it. The solution here, I believe, is having visual symbols communicating to what extent you would like to share your data footprint with the world.
I envision something similar to the Creative Commons approach with their visual symbols communicating what you may and may not do with the content. The person that generates the data can then in a clear and concise way give permission to how it is being used and to what purpose.
To some extent I still believe that even personal data should be encouraged to be shared. But not on any premise. The data that facebook is harvesting for instance is only used for their own gain, solely used to market things back to the users. Since there has been a lot of people participating and contributing to the data it kind of seems natural that this data should benefit everyone and not just a select few. This should of course be a choice as well. Much like you can choose to use the non-profit badge in Creative Commons I think there should be choice to leverage your data to be used for more than profit purposes. So in a sense a kind of information common would be created specifically helping social good.
This could potentially be one of the things that could set the norm as well as giving companies focused on bettering society in different ways a competitive advantage over companies focused solely on profit. The only thing that needs to be done is creating the architecture for it.
The reverbation of today's society through the eyes of a person deeply in love with planet earth. The transformation of today's society is going on in front of our very eyes, I'm striving to be one of the persons to tell the tale of how it was done.
I think at the core of a happier planet and happier persons is community, sharing and telling stories.