Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition. — Thomas Jefferson
Near the start of his Institutional Corruption talk the other day, Larry Lessig sourced the quote above, from Thomas Jefferson. Larry was making a point: that the Framers were interested in personal independence, and not just that of a former colony. The Framers operated, however, in advance of the Industrial Revolution, which was won by Industry and lost by the rest of us — or at least by some of the roles we play in the marketplace.
Such as our roles as customers. While being customers gives us choices among products and services, many of the companies behind those products and services make us dependent on them, in ways we would not prefer if we had a choice. For a measure of how little choice we have, ask yourself how many times you’ve clicked “accept” to “Terms of Service” that typically give all advantages to the seller. Or look the number of cookies stored in your browser.
Well, the tide is turning. We’re finally starting to see a few tools that give users control over how data is collected and used. We’re working on some of those in the VRM community. And they’re a subject of discussion at
at 9:30am on Tuesday, at Harvard Law School, starting with the panel in the title graphic above. You can register here. Even if you show up only for the panel, it’ll help us know how many will be there.
There’s lots more about it at Civilizing the Personal Data Frontier, over at the ProjectVRM blog. Hope to see you there.