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"?


  1. "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."

    I would suggest that Wikileaks is a symptom of the shift towards egency, because a mass dump into the public internet of communications that were created under an assumption of state-level confidentiality could also be seen as a gross violation of the egency of its authors.

    Ultimately, when we speak of transparency, we might want to sharpen the concept to "appropriate transparency." If we are to deliver egency, then we're going to have to provide the tools to enable discrete and controlled sharing of information. This is not all sunshine and roses, though it may be "just". We have to start thinking about the consequences for accountability: in other words, let's say we have created an electronic history of our relationship with Entity A. Now we seek a relationship with Entity B, for whom elements of the relationship with Entity A are relevant to deciding whether they want to have a relationship with us, and what kind of benefit/entitlement/access they will grant us. If we want what Entity B can provide to us, we'll have to agree to share certain facts -- good and bad -- about our Entity A history.

    What this "appropriate transparency" scenario suggests might be called "radical accountability." The cultural shift we'll have to make is how to handle what we might call "breakdowns" in our personal history -- failures to obey the rules, failures to deliver what we committed to delivering, stupid decisions, etc. How long are we to be held accountable for those mistakes and mis-steps in an era when everything is part of a historical record?

  2. The antonym of egency? (Digital) powerlessness


Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts...