Friday, January 04, 2008

Scoblegate? Untwist your knickers!

There is much talk in't blogosphere about Robert Scoble's inglorious boot up the behind from facebook over data scraping.

While it's worth reminding ourselves not to take all this (or ourselves) too seriously (read JP Rangaswami's Applauding Our Own Behinds) I do think it's worth considering why people are getting their knickers in such a twist (if only because I'm one of Robert's 5000 friends - whose email address, date of birth etc have been 'plundered' by the plaxo app he was testing).

Scott Karp at Publishing2.o sums it all up quite nicely, referencing Dave Winer, Nick Carr and Paul Bucheit. I'd also recommend a quick squint at Jeff Jarvis (who in turn refers to Mike Arrington at TechCrunch).

I have two thoughts. First is a response to Scott's post. Scott says the fuss over Scoblegate(tm) serves to reveal a coming war over the control of data.

War implies mighty armies clashing. I think this will end up much more a free-for-all. Perhaps Scoble is going guerilla?
Seriously; what I want is an ID key which opens the safety deposit boxes of my choice. And when I leave that deposit box, I take the whole key with me. You only get to access the data I choose to share while your application does something useful for me. Then I’m gone and you’re back to doing your best to keep the conversation going between us.

Persistent conversation rather than owned/farmed/harvested data will win. The battle, for me, is not about owning data but about owning relationships.

And relationships are not based on what I did last year or even last week. They are based on engaging with me about things I care about, and doing it regularly.

Those applications/institutions/things that are good at that will win digitally just as they do in the real world.

My second point seeks to untwist knickers.
The main force in twisting knickers in the Scoblegate affair appears to be who 'owns' the personal data. ie My name, email address and date of birth is MINE. It is not SCOBLE'S!!!! (followed by much gnashing of teeth, wailing etc)

Calm down.

It's hardly For Your Eyes Only stuff is it? Your dob (and I'm speaking from the UK) is a matter of public record, my email address is far from secret (it's a business one). And isn't it about time we lightened up about email address sharing? I mean, why is it any different from letting someone know your physical address. You can get junk mail at both. So what? Bin it.

Oh, and what was that third element? Oh my gosh - Robert Scoble now knows my name. Call the cops.

If other people (or applications, if you will) knowing this much about you sends you into palpitations I suggest you buy a campervan and head for the desert.

And if knowing this is enough to unlock something meant to be truly secure and personal - go back and redesign your bloody lock!

This paranoia over identity is getting out of hand. We saw it writ large in the UK before Christmas when the Government managed to lose loads of 'personal data'. But that was a load of alarmist tosh, too.

Scoble responds and explains himself.

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?