Breakout: Can Data Make Us More Human?

Hi Everyone,

I’d love to continue the conversation from the Saturday’s plenary talk, and come together to collaboratively think through, discuss and speculate on how we might speak from our personal perspectives to combine, remix, and imagine our data practices in collective ways. My closing question was:

Is this a valid question for this community? Naive? Ill-informed? What questions might be better to ask?

Some ideas to get us started:

  • Can we explicitly influence the larger practices that spiral out of our individual practices? Should we?

  • Particularly in the context of Moves’ sale to Facebook and changes to their privacy policy, it might be useful to talk about sustainable business models for self-tracking apps. Where does our data end up? What are some alternative models for owning and delegating rights to our data so that it can still be leveraged by companies that provide us with value?

How about that old-fashioned business model where users pay companies for their services? :slight_smile:

Personally, I wish more services would take my money. It would make me feel better though not fully confident about the long-term viability of the product and the security of my data.

The argument often repeated is that:

a) if competitors don’t charge and base revenue on ads, it’s hard to compete
b) massive user adoption is needed for aggregation, etc, and therefore lowering the bar to entry is important
c) ads, or data-distribution are more profitable than charging the price the market could bear.

I’m particularly interested in current scenarios where there might be sustainable platforms that do charge a relatively large amount and these platforms coexist with others that don’t charge but draw revenue from selling data in various forms, or targeted marketing. Would we then have privacy for those who can afford it, and the vagaries of the market for those who can’t?

There are in fact quite a few services that have a free, ad-supported version, and a paid, ad-free version (e.g. RunKeeper and Strava). Whether or not these services are sustainable depends on how much outside investment they took on; don’t know of any QS-related services that are profitable just from selling data or advertising?

I don’t disagree. I used Lose It! for some time in both paid and free versions and I’m quite happy that they offer that. They still do sell aggregated & anonymised data (hopefully done properly) though, regardless of whether you’re a paid user or not, and they do stipulate that if bought or merged, your data becomes an asset that will be transferred. The same is probably true for other companies.

I didn’t want to belabour that point though, just consider what alternative models might be. To pick an item from recent news, Dropbox for instance offers free and paid versions, but your data remains accessible to their administrators regardless. Other services such as say SpiderOak claim to be secured in such a way that they cannot access your data or metadata.

Could such a model work for QS-related services? If not in the cloud and encrypted, how about peer to peer? It’s an interesting space to explore, not just for the practical implications but also for how the discussion reveals the values and features that are important to us.

Good point, just because a service is paid doesn’t mean there is no need to read the terms of use.

Don’t see the issue with transferring the right to use data when a company is bought or merged. But I do want to be notified, and have the option to export my data and delete my account.

You can encrypt files before storing them on Dropbox or elsewhere. You just lose the ability to have the service do anything useful with the files (incl indexing, visualizing or sharing).