Monday, November 26, 2012

Bits or pieces?: The king was in his counting house ...

Bits or pieces?: The king was in his counting house ...

So who is the Blackbird, and why doesn't it peck of the King's nose!!!

What will retribution look like?

Friday, September 21, 2012

"The Politics of Sharing"

I attended a very interesting discussion this week at Microsoft, about the politics of information sharing. The topic was being explored from a local government perspective. It became clear that under the guise of "we are not allowed to because of the Data Protection Act" many local government departments and services avoid sharing information about citizens with other organisations, often to the disadvantage of the very citizens they are responsible for serving and protecting.  The real reasons for this was far simpler! The seagulls in Nemo are good exemplars!

It became clear that many of the representatives of the various bodies, organisations and advisors had missed two key points!
1) Not sharing causes more harm than good, (though there were some present who understood the dangers of not sharing, and that effective sharing can be good for citizens)
2) The information that they were refusing to share, was owned more often than not, by the very citizens that they were elected or paid to serve!

We had a number of discussions about some important mechanisms that need to be in place to enable sharing, such as the standardisation of definitions and standardisation of API's. We recognised that a more effective means of virtial identity was required, and that asset owners would also need to be able more effectively and efficiently manage entitlement and access to their data. One excellent point that was made involved the "value" flow in the transaction. Individuals would either be paid in cash for giving access to their personal information, or could benefit other ways that they would value. (I would allow the police to have access to my home alarm system information, if that meant they would respond quicker to an incident. I wouldn't expect them to pay me for access to such data!).

There was apparently begrudging agreement in the room around the concept of citizen centric data stores, there were however far too many individuals who preferred the idea of creating Government controlled citizen "Big Data" stores shared across multiple agencies, "All the better to control you with my dear!". The recent World Economic Forum's paper on the subject effectively signals an important shift. 

Imagine a local authority that provides each of it's citizens a personal data store and helps them create wealth from this personal data store (likely taking a portion of the income for providing the service and as a means of reducing local tax,) while at the same time using the data store to enhance the safety and security of those same citizens. Information stored in such local government personal data stores would only be data that relates to the business of local government. Other more sensitive data would be in more 'personal' Personal Data Stores. There are many businesses that would love to gain access to such local government information that for example details which houses have double glazing installed. This data may not always be used for wealth creation, as an example it might also be used in the context of supporting the  infirm and aged.

Imagine the "politics of sharing", in the light of an ecosystem that creates wealth for the individual citizen, reduces their local taxes and gives local business access to accurate and timely data that helps drive the local economy. 

Human Agency can be even further enhanced by the full and complete realisation of exactly whose data it is. Politicians and Regulators will do well to recognise that their focus should shift from being overly concerned about the details of privacy law, to the more fundamental and far more important issue of Cyber Agency.

After all it is the control over the curtain that gives privacy. Privacy is simply the result of being in control. So laws that encourage increasing the control by the citizen over their own data, and the development of Personal Data Stores, will be good for the economy, the individual, and society. So why are we not seeing such laws being enacted. My belief is simply that the power is in the hands of those that currently create wealth from our personal data, citizens rarely pay lobbyists!

What to do? The answer is simple : Ensure value flows to the individuals and organisations that created or own the data. Anything else is Data Usury.
Doing so will involve taking on those that would lose out from such a redirected flow, and remember, voters, the economy and society can all benefit.

The web will finally be able to do what it was designed for, creating a more open and egalitarian society. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Data Entropy, my new battleground

In a recent Blog Simon Wardley was bemoaning the inappropriate use of the terms Structured and Unstructured as they pertained to data, I started writing a comment that turned into this Blog.

I believed the words that he was exploring also pointed to the power Entropy has over data. The simplified post (I didn't see the EP/LP version of his Blog, he had reduced its length b4 I read it) seemed to assume an inexorable flow from Unstructured to Structured. As humans we are in a constant battle to bring structure, order, form meaning to the world around us, this especially applies to data.

History is still only what we believe happened, as we have yet to gain dominion over data. A key difference between energy and data is that data can be destroyed and far too frequently is destroyed, as the non-existance of many historic records can attest!

I was trying to find the word equivalent to exergy, which applies to energy, in the world of data, when it struck me the lack of its existence maybe because that with data there is no "maximal value". Which on reflection is obvious as when one uses data or information and take nothing from it, far from it more often than not combining data can create new data/information plus there is no natural friction in the world of data just entropy. This in itself was on obvious realisation, but then I already knew that the more I knew the more I realised I did not know!

In our journey of transformation, fighting data entropy all the way
- with data (bits) to information (informs) we add form to create new facts or "informs"
- with "informs" to knowledge (knogs) we discover new forms, & meaning 
- to achieve the highest form we make the right use knowledge and attain wisdom!

Aside: It strikes me that with data, entropy reduces the value of data with the square of time, like gravity reduces with the square of distance.

This is shown very well when I look at the graphical data that I have stored about my life, I can readily access images from a month ago, but many of the images taken a decade ago are lost to my iPhoto album, or of they exist in the Album have lost meaning. The majority of images from my childhood are lost with a few hanging on by their finger tips in physical photo albums, the meta data around even older photos makes them all but meaningless; Who is that man in a soldiers uniform in that fading sepia photo?

Thus my final comment after the mind storm that Simon's Blog evoked is:-

Thankyou I created this Blog as a direct result of your post Simon
I enjoyed the journey and find myself even more motivated to fight data entropy, and add or maintain the order, structure/form and meaning of my personal data. 

Which makes me even hungrier for the Linked Data tools I can only envision but have not the skills or time to create. ORAC is sounding more important and desirable every day, Blakes Seven has a lot to answer for! 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Wot d'ya mean "Digital Exhaust", it's gold & Mine!

or "Asserting my Human Digital Rights is pretty hard if they are not defined!"

Sadly no matter how hard I read the Declaration of Human Rights, I can no-where in them find the provision of my Digital Rights. Admittedly Article 8.1 - "Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." provides very effective right to Privacy especially if we assume the definition of correspondence, to include all data communicated between myself and others, including machines.  This does not however give me ownership, or control over my data, whether it be the data that I deliberately create and store, or the data deliberately leaked from my devices, often called data exhaust or even data that judges or regulators try and call theirs! The data that defines location of my digital devices is mine, or at least it should be! There should be no doubt that anyone that wants to access and/or use that data should have my express permission to do either. Though there may be just cause to gain a court order to gain access to the data without my permission.

Dear Politicians and NGO bureaucrats,
  Please can you turn your attention to defining the Digital Rights of Individuals, including their agents.

Perhaps our friends in WIPO might see there remit expand to include the Data of Individuals, not just the "Intellectual Property related to Corporations and Artists? There is likely to be a better way, than simply re-purposing a current organisation whose role is becoming greyer as the Internet makes Transparency the new reality.

What that is remains to be seen....

Thank you

A very concerned Cyber Citizen

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

From Paper to Plastic to Silicon based Credentials

Digital Wallets are the new Identity battleground, who can get you to put more of your Identity into their Digital Wallet?... Google's "Wallet" , Apple's Passbook, to be launched in their new iPhone next month, or Microsoft's relaunched e-Wallet with their new Windows 8 Phone this Autumn. NFC will become just the underlying technology.  Mastercard and Visa are both getting in on the act with with Digital Wallets, though mostly payment focussed. 

Initial Reactions

What do you mean I can't get digital receipts? 
How can I stop stores from rifling through my Digital Wallet and harvesting info? 
How do I know what information they did get? 
Can they keep all the info or did they just get a "One Time" glimpse? 

These are just a few of the natural questions people will ask in order to get an understanding of the state of the key elements of Agency, Trust, Useability and Manageability in the Digital Wallet space. It is early days and there is a lot of issues to resolve, barriers to remove and most importantly cash flows to figure out. 

The Bottom Line of the Digital Wallet Service Provider:   Who is going to get paid for what?

Contents of a Leather Wallet

As you can see I had 17 "Paper and Plastic" credentials" in one of my Leather Wallets, that I'd want to include in a Digital Wallet with a few more that I don't normally carry around with me that I would happily include.

My Bottom Line: 

My wallet supports more than simple cash transactions
I don't want a Wallet Service for every Identity I own
I want ONE "Virtual Wallet" that is secure and very easy to control, but I want access to it on every device I own.
A few important architectural questions :

When will Ubiquity occur?
A difficult one to answer!

Are the better solutions Proprietary or Open?
I have my bias!

Can "credentials" be easily moved from one Digital Wallet to another?
Today.. no! Tomorrow.. a must have!

Will users want to trust their device as the sole credential repository?
Would you?

Will digital wallet silos, ie a wallet service that only stores ONE credential, really work?
Some are betting yes, at least in the short term.

Things to watch:

The Trust Nexus A network of cloud based identity repositories

Square & Starbucks An innovative location based Identity approach

Question for Organisations to ask themselves

Will my organisation have the ability to enact transactions with these emerging Digital Wallets?
Will my organisation have the ability to put "credentials" into these emerging Digital Wallets?
What will be the advantages of doing so?
What will be the disadvantages of not being able to do so?
Are the solutions adhering to the Jericho Forum IdEA Commandments?

Question a smart consumer should ask: 

Why didn't the organisations making the shift to Silicon based Identity know about the Jericho Forum Identity, Entitlement and Access Management Commandments or watch the Jericho Forum IdEA Videos?

Identity Video #1 - Identity First Principles.   
Identity Video #2 - Operating with Personas.    
Identity Video #3 - Trust and Privacy.    
Identity Video #4 - Entities & Entitlement.   
Identity Video #5 - Building a Global Identity Ecosystem.   

Is this the beginning of the end of Paper/Plastic Credentials for your organisation, or the beginning of the end of your organisation? For there are some very raw and powerful tectonic identity forces at work under the covers of this simple sounding shift. Do you understand them?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Controlling consumers; eyeballs or wrists

It has been understood for a long time that the eyeball is the pathway to control an individual. The trick is that in the past the war for the consumer eyeballs have been played out quite openly, in adverts on the TV. Adverts have always relied on both subliminal and supraliminal stimuli. More recent behaviours have taken the war to control consumers both mobile and underground, out of the scrutiny of regulators or indeed often the consumers themselves. Signs have been surfacing, the challenge is for us to identify and  interprete these signs, and react before it is too late.
(cf gently bringing a live frog to the boil, first it goes to sleep in the nice warm water!)

George Orwell made part of the leap in 1948 when he realised that controlling the populace was likely to be achieved through taking control of the media for messaging and the television set in the home for monitoring. However he did not have the benefit of hindsight, nor did he predict the amazing advances that mobile technology would bring.  How could we expect him to, when we are in the here and now and apparently are not spotting the emerging issues.  George in his book 1984 represented states which were reducing the agency of their citizens.  Some people might relate this to human rights, but sadly we have no human rights when it comes to Cyber Agency, (which is whole separate Blog topic). I want to keep it simple, I believe I should be able to control my destiny, and control devices and information related to my journey towards this destiny. There are folks out there who want to wrest that control from me, and worse they are making rapid progress, especially in the Wild West of Cyber Space.

Some of the signs:

Carrier IQ: US Phone Carriers inserted spyware on US Mobile phones
Mobile Spyware Services are being made publicly available that allows anyone to do it!
Samsung Smart TV Terms and Conditions
(If you have a Samsung Smart TV you should seriously read the ToS)

Despite much searching I cannot find them on the internet, so here are a few interesting pages: This page gives the right to Block Access to Samsung Smart TV for any reason.

As an aside, just after powering up and connecting "my" Samsung Smart TV to the internet, Samsung took control of "their"? device and started deleting applications from it and replacing applications with others. I was powerless to stop them.

If you own a Samsung Smart TV I hope you didn't think you would be in control of it!

If this is not bad enough, later parts of the ToS define, what Samsung believe to be, non-personal data, anonymous data, including your IP address, and your search terms!? 

An IP address can easily be used to identify a household and from there it is not difficult to identify occupants.
In later parts of the ToS, Samsung give themselves the rights to ship your data anywhere in the world they want to, and basically to whom they want to. 

During the sign in process Samsung also appear to gain access to and control of your FaceBook identity, if you choose to use the Facebook App.

Then on this page the European regulatory discussions about citizens managing their right to be forgotten is well and truly squashed.

The latest Samsung Smart TV comes with a built in camera, any body spot a similarity with George Orwells world?

The battle is now officially joined, especially as Samsung appear to have realised what George did not, the future is Mobile! Therein lies the key to gaining control of consumers. I believe they have realised that the trick to controlling consumers is not just to be in front of their eyeballs but from where you are doing it, the corner of their room, their laptop, or to be with them in their pockets. We can extrapolate that the next key step will be a piece of real estate more valuable than eyeballs, pockets or diamonds, their wrist. Watch as the power problems are resolved and a small wrist mounted computer becomes a reality. The winners will be the ones that own the device on the wrist.

I predict their will be two camps, with a naive few in the centre of the battle stating that it all doesn't matter and all information should be free. The low ground will be quickly taken by those intending to grasp all forms of Cyber Agency from their Customers and/or Citizens. They will prosper for a while, and are prospering in these early Cyber years. Until a more internet savvy generation emerges to state their agency expectations more clearly, we can expect the current Internet sheep to head down for free food into the warm and green pastures. The second camp can only really emerge when a demand for their services comes clear, those that take the high ground will build services that allow the consumer/user to regain cyber agency. (This does not mean that the providers need to give up control of their assets/services.)

Posit: This may sound like a scary world for providers, who expect to make money from their Customers, until they realise that by actually giving their Customers more control there is more chance for Profit if their Customers feel that their interests are also at the heart of any transaction.

Having your assets and services out of control is clearly a bad idea... the answer in 2 dimensions (where the Asset or Service is conflated with the Consumer) is obvious Gain Control as Close to the Consumer as Possible,
Once the parties can get to the high ground they will gain a more complete perspective, empowering clients while maintaining control of an organisations assets/services becomes a more beneficial play.  Many organisations are assuming that in order to control their assets and services they have to gain control of the Consumer. The value of empowering the Consumer will not occur to these organisations.
Those that do will also note that a new set of Trust Services will need to be implemented.

These might also start to become known as Agency Services, and they will be Agents operating in the interests  of the Consumer. (Hopefully following Asimov's 3 Laws of Robotics)

So let's watch as the race to control customers shifts from the corner of the room, to the laptop, to the pocket, to the wrist, then when this achieved watch as organisations struggle to put the consumer back in control, while maintaining control of their assets and services. Those that head straight for mutual control, close to the individual consumer have the highest chance of long term success.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

From concern about Privacy, through Primacy, to Egency.

Well I've slept on it and the change is on! Whilst Primacy, the first word I was trying to propose to explain the concept, does indicate the state of being "Number One", "Agency" as used primarily by philosophers is really closer to the concept of being in control of one's data and therefore being in control of one's virtual self.  However "Agency" does not convey the data or the virtual aspects of the crucial concept we are trying to convey.  It was in conversation with Mike Nelson at 15:00 on Friday the 9th of March , in a Google Hangout conversation, that he lead me to "Egency", a neologism that will, hence forth, mean "the state of being in control of (one's) information assets".  Egency (the more flowery? amongst you may chose to apply a hyphen to get e-gency, though I am not in favour) can be applied to all entities, (organisation, human, device or code).  Egency will become an important thing to regulate, as humanity starts to realise that "Egency" is in fact a Human Right.  More-over we will recognise that it is the true economic life blood of this virtualising economy of ours.  There will be courses on "How to become more egent".  We will come to realise that egency and transparency are in fact good bed fellows, Wiki-Leaks will be seen as an early major shift towards egency.  Artists will recognise that the prior business model, where their agents became more egent than themselves, and their publishers even more so, was a massive egency #fail!  Publishing and Piracy are in fact both theft or misappropriation of egency.  We will finally come to understand how we are sleep walking into a world, where our egency is being sucked from us all, authors, artists, and consumers alike.

Here's hoping that at least one large corporation will come to understand that removing egency from it's users is, in fact, "Doing Harm!"  Do we really want to become the energy source of the internet, cf "The Matrix".  Will we wake up soon enough?  For "Egency" is the oil in the coming centuries economic engine; egency both powers and lubricates.  We cannot let it leak away, or be syphoned off!  To enable and protect egency we will need an open and transparent e-trust ecosystem, but that is another post!

My primary fear is one best articulated in the April 11th New Yorker cartoon by Mick Stevens... "What if the meek don't want it?"

You can purchase a copy here:

My thanks to Merlin, Lord Erroll, my LEF colleagues, including Mike Nelson, Doug Neal, Simon Wardley, Jim Ginsburgh, and all my colleagues in the Jericho Forum (especially Paul Simmonds, Steve Whitlock, Andrew Yeoman), and Chris Wiesinger of CSC for helping me to this mind-state.  I am sure that there are others who have also influenced my thinking, I hope they will forgive not being mentioned.

Related Concepts to explore
Commoditisation of Publishing = Egent Positive
Consumerization of Identity = Egent Positive
Micro-perimeterisation = Egent Positive
What is the antonym of "Egency"?