Month: June 2014

#TakeBackControl with #VRM

That’s a big part of what tonight’s Respect Network launch here in London is about. I’ll be speaking briefly tonight at the event and giving the opening keynote at the Immersion Day that will follow tomorrow. Here is a draft of what I’ll say tonight:

This launch is personal.

It’s about privacy.

It’s about control.

It’s about taking back what we lost when Industry won the Industrial Revolution.

It’s about fixing a marketplace that has been ruled by giant companies for a hundred and fifty years — even on the Internet, which was designed — literally — to support our independence, our autonomy, our freedom, our liberty, our agency in the world.

Mass marketing required subordinating the individual to the group, to treat human beings as templates, demographics, typicalities.

The promise of the Internet was to give each of us scale, reach and power.

But the commercial Internet was built on the old model. On the industrial model. What we have now is what the security guru Bruce Schneier calls a feudal system. We are serfs in the Kingdom of Google, the Duchy of Facebook, the Principality of Amazon.

Still, it’s early. The Internet as we know it today — with browsers, ISPs, search engines and social media — is just eighteen years old. In the history of business, and of civilization, this is nothing. We’ve barely started.

But the Internet does something new that nothing else in human history ever did, and we’re only beginning to wrap our heads around the possibilities: It puts everybody and everything at zero functional distance from everybody and everything else — and at costs that want to be zero as well.

This is profound and huge. The fact that we have the Net means we can zero-base new solutions that work for each of us, and not just for our feudal overlords.

Archimedes said “Give me a place to stand and I can move the world.”

That’s why we are here today. Respect Network has been working to give each of us a place to stand, to take back control: of our identities, our data, our lives, our relationships… of everything we do on the Net as free and independent human beings.

And what’s extra cool about this is that Respect Network isn’t just one company. It’s dozens of them, all standing behind the same promise, the same principles, the same commitment to build markets upward from you and me, and not just downward like eyes atop pyramids of control.

I’ll have a lot more to say about this tomorrow at Immersion Day, but for now I invite you to savor participating in a historic occasion.

I’m sure I’ll say something different, because I’ll speak extemporaneously and without the crutchware of slides. But I want to get this up  because I can’t print where I am at the moment, and it seems like a fun and useful thing to do in any case.

For more, see A New Data Deal, starting today, at my personal blog.

VRM is as distributed as humanity

VRM is for the  individual human beings we call customers.

While human beings form collective groups — families, teams, parishes, parties — what makes each of us most human is our individuality — and our capacity to grow and change.

We are all different. Even identical twins, grown from the same split egg, can be as different as male and female.

Our species evolved faces so we could tell each other apart, express ourselves differently, and live separate and unique lives. No other species has the same degree of variation among faces and voices, or has the same ability to customize personal appearance, behavior and voice, through diet, exercise, piercings, markings (such as tatoos) and other choices.

And yet we also form organizations — tribes, churches, businesses, governments — that cannot scale to usefulness without treating people as populations, groups and templates. We need these organizations to operate civilization.

But we also need our individuality. This is why we bristle when asked in a survey to provide our age, ethnicity or income group. Both asking and answering those questions insults our dignity as separate and distinct individuals: ones with dominion over ourselves, born to possess full agency in the world, and irreducible to demographic characteristics.

Humanity by its nature is also distributed. Scattered. In the computing and networking worlds — which are now the same — distributed means comprised of individual points of autonomy and control. The same goes for links between those nodes.

Paul Baran described the different ways humanity and its networks can be organized, with this drawing here —

fig1

— in this essay for the Rand Corporation on the subject of distributed communications. It was radical when it was written, in 1962, because centralized networks were the only kind. But Baran was also writing  at the height of the cold war, when the need to create the smallest possible “attack surface” was imperative. Hence the distributed design that later became the base-level nature of the Internet: as basic and elemental as chemical valency — the combining power of elements — and human nature.

This design is what David Isenberg calls “stupid” — because its purpose is to put all the intelligence at the network’s infinite number of ends (which are mostly human), rather than in the middle(s), where it is vulnerable.

Over the last decade, however, large businesses operating on the Internet, and provisioning access to it, have become increasingly centralized — or at best decentralized, but in very central ways. Visualizations of the Internet, such as this

internet

— and this

Internet_map_1024_-_transparent

 

— are of type B in Baran’s drawing above: decentralized, rather than distributed.

But the forces of decentralization and distribution are still with us, growing up from the Net’s own grass roots: individual geeks, working together on behalf of the Net itself, and its native nature.

Jon Udell wrote about them yesterday, pointing to this amazing list by @rossjones by way of @Jeremie Miller, father of XMPP, one of the most widespread protocols in the Internet suite. It’s far longer than our own here at Project VRM. But we will include it, because what they’re doing supports what we are doing, in the most fundamental way possible.

Lately I’ve been asked, along with many others, if there is still hope for a Net free from control by giant Net-based corporations, governments, phone and cable companies, the entertainment industry, and combinations of all those forces. On the surface it looks like the answer is no.

But looking down in the grass roots, growing upward out of the Net’s deepest and most permanent layer — also the most human one — gives me faith.

VRM early June rundown

Cozy Cloud, an open source personal cloud (and therefore VRM) company based in France, just raised a million bucks. Nice work!

MyWave, a New Zealand-based VRM/CMR (Customer Managed Relationship) company, says this in one of its recent posts:

MyWave’s vision is for an online world where individuals have control and ownership of their data and have the power to choose and create ‘segment of one’ personal relationships based on Mutual Value.

That means giving people the power to gather, control and use their data in one place; to see where they have been, what they have been doing and plan for what they want to do. It means giving individuals new ways to engage – not only with companies and people, but with the things they own or aspire to, or are interested in. Conversely, it means giving individuals the power to filter out the products and services and other personal and business clutter that wastes their time and energy.

The data an individual generates describes who they are and what they do – up to a point. Typically, that data is held in enterprise company databases. It ages, is incomplete and is stored and used in ways designed to push products and services. But if individual customer data could be accurate, up to date, and – most important – be used with the individual’s personal ownership and permission, then that data can become alive and help individuals and enterprises build a highly personalised mutual value relationship.

brand eins‘  Ausgabe 05/2014 – Schwerpunkt Im Interesse des Kunden Was der Kunde wirklich will translates as  Issue 05/2014 – Focus In the interest of the customer — What the customer really wants. It sources The Cluetrain Manifesto and more recent utterings by David Weinberger and myself.

Don Marti‘s latest unpackings of what’s going wrong in online advertising-ville:

Dan Blum‘s Dark Lords of the Internet moves the ball downfield from his earlier piece, Covert OAuth Redirects and Perverse Incentives. The pull-quote in both: “A weak protocol meets risk aggregation and perverse incentives. There may be an even bigger story here. Unfortunately, it seems the big service providers may be equally loose on fraud, when it comes to their advertising bottom lines.”

 at GovLab Blog and Ideas LunchDoc Searls – Maintaining Independence and Privacy in a World of Security and Surveillance. Very thorough rundown of a talk I gave at The Gov Lab in New York.

In Fellow Travelers: Thali and Telehash, Jon Udell gives props to Jeremie Miller’s tele hash (“A secure wire protocol powering a decentralized overlay network for apps and devices”), along with Jon’s own work on Thali (“Building the Peer to Peer Web”).  Both are open source and have crews working away on them. Both guys also point me (and now us) toward alternative-internet.

Vendor Relationship Management: Why Nonprofits Should Care at TechSoup has a nice rundown on what VRM can do for nonprofits and where VRM stands in general right now. One pull-quote: “The movement has huge potential for nonprofits and public libraries, but it still has some ways to go in the overall technology sector.” That’s why nearly every movement starts with verticals. Uber is a perfect example. Not only is it now a navigation fixture on Google maps, but (says the company) it’s creating 20,000 jobs per month.

Geddup, a Melbourne-based VRM startup, is listed by Anthill Online as one of the 2014 Smart 100. Readers get to vote on their favourites.

In Building a Universal Silo (which he argues against), Phil Windley explains, “the Internet is the one big silo we’re after. It’s not perfect. In particular, we need to weed out some of the centralization that has crept in (e.g. DNS, Root Certificate Authorities). But it’s the one big silo we all can be a part of without everyone subjecting themselves to a single administrative authority.” He also points to Ben Werdmüller’s How we’re on the verge of an amazing new open web  #indieweb. Great work going on there, all up the #VRM alley.

Russell Brandom in The VergeiOS 8 Strikes an unexpected blow against location tracking.

Will Bourne in Inc.: The Revolution Will Not Be Monetized. Nice profile of Wickr (“an all-but-unhackable mobile messaging app”), and founder Nico Sell. Pull-quotage:

Wickr, which was founded in 2011, has much bigger ambitions than helping people avoid the NSA: Sell wants to obliterate the business model on which the world’s most powerful tech companies depend.

Sell is part of an idealistic but ambitious movement in Silicon Valley looking to flip the switch on how we live and share and do business online. These entrepreneurs see the status quo–in which users have signed away the rights to their data and online existence to Facebook, Google, Apple, Twitter, and a few other supremely powerful companies–as not just a violation of privacy but also as fatal to innovation. “We all assumed our data was private, and now we’re realizing that it’s not, and we’re doing something about it–as a culture, as a society,” says Brian Blau, Gartner Group’s research director covering social networks. “I’m seeing this all over the place. The pendulum is swinging,” he says, adding that he is in the middle of a project tentatively called “Power to the People.” “If people demand better privacy controls, then the natural outcome is that they’re going to want more control of their data, and eventually they’ll realize their data has value. I think there’s a big business there.”

This sector is only just emerging, but Sell certainly sees the potential. “I want [Wickr] to replace Facebook and Skype–simultaneously,” she says. And she isn’t kidding. “We’re hoping to create an entire marketplace and have thousands of apps running off Wickr software.”

In fact, a cluster of young companies is forming around the premise that users will demand more control of their online data and that the Googles and Facebooks of the world will give in 
to that demand–or be replaced. As Johannes Ernst, CEO of the company that makes Indie Box, a personal server that debuted in May, asks: “Why can’t we have all the same chatting and things we like to do online without Mark Zuckerberg in the loop? Why do we need him?”

Naturally, many eyes will roll at the thought of a guerrilla force of furry little “open Web” usurpers setting their sights on Zuck. But Apple laughed at Android, too, once upon a time. Sell believes we can rebuild our online lives around a new model and open up a vast commercial terrain in the process. “They are stealing,” she insists. “I think that Google and Facebook, in another 30 years when we look back, will be the robber barons of our time.”

Also featured are Ansa (“Communicate off the record, so no trace of your conversation is left behind”) and Omlet (“Unlimited free messaging with control over your data.”)

Thanks to Johannes for bringing this piece to my attention. Also thanks to the Personal Clouds list for pointing out “patents pending” on every Wickr page, and its apparent absence of source code to inspect. Alec Muffett also wrote about this two years ago. When another contributor to the list took issue with criticizing Wickr for its patents and (apparently) hidden source code, I wrote this back to the list:

These are fraught issues.

That Wickr would require NDAs is not unusual. Nor (imho) should that make it a non-starter, at least at this stage of the company’s game.  But it does give me some of the same pause it does (another contributor to the list).

I have my own problems with patents:

Still, I know many companies that say they cannot get funding or operate in markets such as finance and government without standing on patents they hold.

I know others that patent everything they can, just to protect themselves and their work from “submarine” patents and patent trolls.

Large companies — ones that can afford to patent everything they want — often deploy patents like nuclear weapons: something they never use, but which give them bargaining power with other big companies. Sometimes that bargaining power opens rather than closes markets.

And I know others (including big companies such as the kind just mentioned) who patent their work for the purpose of opening it up to everybody. Digital, Intel and Xerox together did this with their patents for Ethernet. They held (and presumably still hold) those patents while also letting the whole world use Ethernet at no cost. This led them to beat Token Ring in the marketplace. Ethernet was free and open (but owned) while Token Ring was costly and closed (and owned). The whole world uses Ethernet today.

Source code is another issue. There are the kinds of code that use licenses approved by the Free Software Foundation or the Open Source Initiative (including most things called “open source”). There are kinds that are open and frozen in place and left stable for the world to use (e.g. RSS 2.0), but don’t bother with getting FSF or OSI approval. I am sure there are other variants as well. Still, it would be nice if Wickr could expose at least some of their code for the world to see and trust.

Anyway, it’s complicated.

Steve Lohr in The New York Times: New Curbs Sought on the Personal Data Industry. It begins,

The Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday called on Congress to protect consumers against the unchecked collection and sharing of their digital data — from websites visited to their marital status — by providing people with tools to view, suppress and fix their information.

The agency also said the little-known companies, called data brokers, that analyze and sell huge amounts of the consumer information for marketing purposes, needed to be reined in and more transparent to the public.

Companies that trade in consumer data, the agency said in a 110-page report about the industry, suffered from “a fundamental lack of transparency.”

RT News: German ‘NSA-proof’ private server raises $1mn crowdfunding in 89 minutes. The server is for small companies, but it’s a harbinger for personal servers as well.

Recent VRM tweets:

. Just glossary or LIVE notes at event, then collaborate / act post event? model  from Boston, MA

 United Individuals of America

my wave ‏@mywaveme A simple and informative look at the new marketing economy.

 What is you ask Individual Human Power,Pre-Administration

 Jun 6 Come to the training course for Building Quality Business Relationships Join us here >

 Jun 5 Ds universitaires, mais aussi ds représentants de ministères, d’associations et d’OBNL participent aux discussions sur

 Jun 5 Want to be cheered up, after that? Here:

 Jun 5 Root Data Structure of Society Our Integrity is a Structural Concern.

 Jun 4  Society has root data model problem caused by flawed

 Jun 4 PvdA vraagt om meer aandacht voor ondergrondse infrastructuur voor bv datatransport, glasvezel, CO2 leidingen, warmtemeter

 Jun 4 Behandeling Visie Ruimte en Mobiliteit door over onzekerheid bestaande initiatieven, leefbaarheid kleine kernen en rol PS

 Jun 3  unfortunately with the acquisitions it also becomes exponentially harder to get in touch and ask questions 🙁

 Jun 3  Post- the new privacy policy, I will gladly pay you to have full control over who and what I share my data with.

 Jun 3 This research paper ably demonstrates the advantages of turning CRM into CMR. MyWave enables this.

 Jun 3  workshop today at NTIA

 Jun 3 RT : Building a Universal Silo  /cc < “The Internet is the one big silo we’re after.” +1

 May 20 Acting in the interests of customers is the best way to comply with data laws

 May 15 RT : Our technology expert James Ladd on how the personal touch builds a loyal audience

 May 13 Opp.Research2.0 RT SocialRank Raises $1M To Help Brands ID Competitors’ Most Valuable Followers

 May 12 Is a personal cloud/ VRM in your future?

 May 12 “Not paying for a product? You’re the product” becomes “Your data is someone else’s property even when paying”:

 May 11 Want an amendment to Constitution that says U own Ur data? Don’t wait to get started

© 2017 ProjectVRM

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑