Stripmining The User, Part II – A Response to EB

Because the themes on this blog make comment quoting and deep-threading a nightmare, a post in response to Elias’ comment:

Hi – Bizarro here.

Nice to meet a superhero of sorts!

1) your refutation of “the intelligent personal agents that are able to process this structured data still have a long way to go before becoming fully actualized. Really?


I told Alisa to include this when she asked for feedback on her original post. My reasoning being personal agents do exist but they are still dumb. And the reason they are dumb, is because there is not *enough* machine processable information to allow them to act without human guidance.

That’s just one of the places where we differ; for me, they’re dumb because we’re dumb, and the gap will never close. No amount of knowledge will ever equate to wisdom, and no quantity of facts about somebody will ever replace a relationship or a connection, and something inside us wants a connection.

Wishing for more and more semantic-able data until some sort of critical mass arises, is just another form of Bullwinkle’s “this time fer sure!” – no rabbit is ever going to be pulled out of that hat.

I would agree that “more data = more nifty stuff being built” – witness mashups of UK Parliamentary Expenses versus distance traveled from London, colour-coded on Google Maps.

That was really enlightening a few months ago; but politicians’ expenses are (or should be) public information. Where I have private information about myself, I should choose with whom it is shared. Where I and another party have shared information about myself, a policy needs to be agreed.

There’s nothing hard about that.

We are getting there, but it’s no mass market opportunity yet.

  1. how much personal semantic data needs to exist before a solution spontaneously erupts?
  2. why should the data be created in the first place?

I’d love to know the answers to those questions.

2) Channeling Adriana? I’m also a member of the VRM Project. So no coincidence we have similar ideas. But to get more evidence of the access point, you can read this blog post I wrote

There is another post I made on the mailing list well over a year ago, and I essentially made the point that your identity data only has value if it is recent…hence why access is more valuable than capturing the data (as you always get the latest data).

If we’re into datestamps:

  • I explained the Mine! concept (including “value of data decreases with time”) to Eve Maler in March 2008 – my iPhoto tells me so. Maybe that’s how you picked it up?
  • We published the white paper in Feb 2008 which alludes to it in §v0.4
  • Further back we mooted the Mine as a technical solution at IIW2007b.
  • And Adriana was talking about the dynamics and value of data as a proxy for control in relationships earlier than spring 2007; the nascent VRM community were wedded to Higgins back then, didn’t want to know.

So: it goes back a long way before 2008/11. As an aside the “user-driven” concept was Adriana’s, too, until it got fubared by people who wanted to use it in a tail-wagging-dog kind of way to describe their pet projects. Alas and alack.


So for example, your relationship status and current employer changes dramatically every year, five years, ten years – if Facebook had that data about you five years ago, it’s less valuable than if you updated it two days ago.

Yep. Agreed, totally. That’s where we started from in November 2007. Now, we’re approaching beta for the first Mine! software, and the cool thing is that it doesn’t have a technology adoption curve.

3) Your broader point about a distaste for monetising people’s identity, I think you need to recognise that’s just how the world works. And rather than preach a utopia where companies cannot do so, we need to instead shape a world where we control our data and the benefit surrounding it.

Accusations of / belief in utopianism generally generally come from someone who can only see the world as a zero-sum game – either the good guys win, or the bad ones.

In reality it doesn’t work like that.

  • I have lots of data about my Amazon purchases.
  • Amazon has that too.
  • Amazon doubtless monetise that information.
  • I want to do that, too.

I want to share the data on my own terms and technology is arising that permits me to do that; subscribers to my data will get the raw data, direct from the source, ie: me.

That’s very valuable stuff, as you yourself agree, and market dynamics suggests what might happen next.

Rather than prohibiting an existing practice, we need to re-engineer it and do so along the lines of incentives for business as that is how you create change.

Prohibiting? Who said anything about prohibiting? I am just talking about throwing away the middle-men. We are users. We can do that. On the ‘net we are waking up to the idea that we don’t need intermediaries, except at our convenience.

Every iPhone and Android runs Unix, but Unix is “too complex for users”. Every bittorrent client is a webserver, but “running a webserver is too complex for users”.

Just imagine what will have been too complex for users, in 2010! 🙂

4 Replies to “Stripmining The User, Part II – A Response to EB”

    1. I just skimmed it. Looks interesting. Why the “immutable” thing?

      I know what the word means, but see no reason for that quality to be applied to data about you without specific reason…

  1. It is a problem in the field of information distribution in product supply chains to author, maintain and distribute data objects that contain immutable data.

    A good description of immutable objects is found in US Patent 6,438,560: Reuse of immutable objects during object creation (IBM Corporation) –

    What Pardalis has done is to think of immutable objects in terms of what is required by complex (i.e., fragmented) product supply chains. What the immutability provides is an element of trustworthiness in the sharing of globally identified data objects between supply chain participants who have no direct relationship (or knowledge) of each other.

    For further discussions, check out Data Ownership in the Cloud on LinkedIn. Here’s the link –

    Hope to see you there!

    1. It is a problem in the field of information distribution in product supply chains to author, maintain and distribute data objects that contain immutable data

      [citation please]

      The rest of your comment sounds like an advert, so i am ignoring it until a benefit is explained

      I will repeat, i *know* what immutability means.

      until benefit is explained, however, I will have to assume that Pardalis is not important. nor beneficial.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *