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Personal Data Locker

2013-01-15 15:46:42.532266-08 by Dan Lyke 0 comments

This came across the Personal Clouds mailing list, and I felt compelled to respond to it. David Siegel: Personal Data Locker (vimeo video):

I think there's some silly SciFi there that hasn't been thoroughly thought through, and because of that his presentation isn't a metaphor that helps me better see how to better implement these things. And I don't have a single control panel for all of those things, but I can do most of those things right now.

And very few of them interest me.

Maybe I'm too stuck in concrete thinking, but a few random notes:

  • "Reminder that her oven's warranty is about to expire" - as presented this scenario feels too much like it puts the power with the vendor, not with Maxine. The idea that my oven manufacturer can send me messages anonymously, just knowing that I'm an owner of that device, feels like the difference between "Hey, I saw you were on my block and think you need a coffee?" vs "I could use a coffee, I wonder what options are nearby".

Yeah, it's subtle, and that description can be interpreted both ways, but I feel like Siegel is biasing his presentation towards the companies that want to exploit this.

  • "Everything she owns, including her house, is listed for sale" - One of the things that anyone's played around with anonymity and privacy has dealt with is that identifiers aren't just the ones we explicitly offer to people. If you've ever tried to keep multiple online personae separate, you know that publishing this sort of stuff is fraught with issues.

Also, why is it up to her to list things for sale? Why is it not up to the purchasers to say "I want..."? Someone browsing my art collection feels downright creepy, frankly. Sure, his discussion talks about it being anonymous, but abstractions leak.

  • "Never sees a phone number or an email address" - identifiers are tied to personas, we often need to talk to the same person in the context of different personas, and the identifiers we use for that are deeper than the individual.
  • "All the media live on the open web" - we complain at letting advertisers pay Facebook *forty cents* a month on our behalf. Who's paying to run this infrastructure?

So I'm not sure what "personal cloud" means to everyone, but this seems like free association without critical thinking. Too much "magic happens" and "everything is under Maxine's control". It's kinda like saying "we're gonna have flying cars!" without thinking about overhead utilities and trees around our driveways, backyard privacy, downwash from the rotors blowing kids off their tricycles...

... let alone the lack of a power source.

And I don't find that sort of thinking useful. Except in staking out overly broad patents so I can profit off of other people's actual innovation.

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