Archive for the ‘global brain’ Category

At this year’s Innotribe Sibos, we have a session about digital ethics. Part of a full day on man-machine convergence.

Some of that conversation will be about the use and control of data. With this post, I would like to add my perspective to that conversation, based on some recent thinking on human agency.

At a recent MyData2016 event in Helsinki, i was surprised how little the thinking about personal data stores has evolved since 2012, when i was myself deeply in the trenches of the topic of distributed data sharing.

It was a really great conference, well organized, cool audience etc, but like many conferences, it was the tribe talking to tribe, believers talking to believers, all thinking that their lens to look at things was the right one, with little or no contrarian view.

I wanted to be that contrarian, and challenge a bit the assumptions.

At the event there was a lot of talk about “PIMS”: Personal Information Management Systems, or personal data stores, or personal data “clouds”. I don’t want to have a discussion about the subtle semantics here.

At one moment, Jamie Smith from Ctrl-Shift – who i respect a lot – said something along the lines of “PIMS are all about giving people agency”.

I think that is a big illusion, and that was what my talk was about. The illusion that the problem is about taking back ownership and control of your data. And that a PIMS is the solution. I believe we are discussing the wrong problem and the wrong solution when talking about managing our own personal data at our terms and conditions.

Owning your own agency is more important than owning your data. That in essence is what my talk was about.

My presentation at #MyData2016 conference

UPDATE: here the link to the Prezi of this presentation. Because there is so much video in this Prezi it takes 2-3 min to load. Be patient😉

The talk is part of a longer story of more than one hour, wandering through a whole bunch of philosophical, ethical and artistic considerations. At this event, i got only 20 minutes, and i told the moderator he could cut me off, which he did most elegantly (no pun intended) at the end of my presentation.

My agency vs. my data is a pretty big deal.

  • It is not about buying but creating
  • It is not about my data but my agency
  • It is not about privacy but about shelter
  • It is not about power asymmetries but relationship symmetries
  • It is not about MyData but about OurData

In that sense the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is shooting at the wrong problem. In that sense our politicians and leaders in general are again outperforming in solving the problems of the past.

I got some good reactions after this talk, from Doc Searls saying “you gave the talk that i always wanted to give”, to somebody else sending me a tweet and a mail saying “your presentation has changed my life, i decided to leave Facebook after more than 10 years”.

There is such a strong tension between our actual reality and the desired reality that we are currently moving in some form of virtual or surreality. But as Magritte said:

“Surrealism is the immediate knowledge of reality”

And we feel lost. We escape and try to reconnect nostalgically to what was, and are afraid of what going to be. People focus on the surreality of their phones instead of real life.

People believe what is on their phones and PIMS is the reality, and are able to represent us as human beings. But as Markus Sabadello said at this event: “Technology will not be able to represent the full complexity of human beings”

Our devices and apps make us believe we are in control, because we now can “manage” our data and lives. But we are focused on managing life, rather than living it. That is our big illusion.

To summarise, I believe our plan and ambition towards our desired reality must at least have following components:

  • This space needs to be regulated. Regulation means setting ethical and moral norms, AND policing them
  • These norms must be ethical and moral
  • We must decide who sets these norms, who polices them, and who penalises/rewards good behaviour.

For that we must bring “Society-in-the-loop”, and not let this be decided by governments, corporations, or god forbid, algorithms



Society-in-the-loop by Iyad Rahwan

We must expand ourselves from a problem (efficiency) orientation to a creative (value creating) orientation, because the future is not about solving the past but knowing what you want and use mastery to make that happen.

Last but not least, we must be very much aware of the shallowness of the actual reality, and strive for high quality work with high quality attention and presence and meaning also called “Deep Work”

Maybe next year, they should call the conference #MyAgency2016;

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I have been away for some while. Many of you thought I was on a sabbatical leave, but that was just a smoke curtain for a much more dramatic makeover and re-invention of myself. I decided to become a true cyborg.

Oculus Ruft Headset Shoot

Zuck was onto something when he decided to acquire Oculus for 1.9B$ earlier this month: blurring the virtual world with the physical world to tap into the enormous opportunity of virtual experiences. But I believe he did not go till the end of his thoughts. You see, the Oculus is “only” one-directional. Giving you the input of virtual worlds. What if you could also give-back and share-back into the virtual world? The ultimate sharing economy?

That’s why I recently decided to become angel investor in a small start-up from Ukraine called “The Fishery”. We are really in stealth mode, I can’t say too much of it. But we are applying the lean startup methodology and we now have our first MVP (Minimal Viable Product) that we start iterating with our celebrity customers. I hope you will understand I can’t share names at this stage.


Whereas products such as FitBit, Jawbone and others focus on QS (Quantified Self), we believe that with the Fishery we are entering the space of the Qualified Self – it’s about depth and quality, not quantity. We are still hesitating what will be the name of the product: something between the “Fishbit” of the “iFish”: indeed, what we are doing is starting to fish into the deep oceans of the subconscious and the unconscious, where data and the human species become integral one and holistic.

For quite some time, I was a big believer in so called “Personal Data Stores”: tools for the user that allow us to decide ourselves which pieces of our data we share with what vendor in what particular transaction context. But I realized that this only covers the data that we share intentionally. It does not cover data that we share non-intentionally (like the signals from our SIM cards), or data that are collected in surveillance and co-veillance scenarios.

So why not bite the bullet, accept that privacy is dead, and move into the realm of extreme transparency? And what if we could just plainly connect our own human brain to the internet, and create a distributed peer-to-peer exchange of human brainpower, and start to keep a human ledger that is cryptographically secured and trusted? This goes way beyond the Minority Report scenarios (after all, a film of more that a decade old). In this case, you only have to start thinking about something you would do, and hop! It would be immediately shared and algorithmically processed by the hive of connected brains. Of course, we’d have to make some major changes to legislation and regulation, but that can be overcome, it has been done before.

Anyway, last week I was back in our labs in Ukraine, and I volunteered to become the first test case for the latest beta version of our Fishbit.

Petervan with Fishbit

What you see on the picture is me on the lab-bed, right after the 3 hour operation. The little brick on my chest is the prototype of the Fishbit. About 35 wires are connected to different sensors on my brain, my heart, my blood pressure, my lungs, skin, my legs, arms, etc: it’s a true virtual and “brick”-and-mortar tricoder of all my physical and mental sensations and experiences, not only at the cognitive level, but more importantly also tracking and tracing the sub- and unconscious activities of my brain and body.

The Fishbit has of course a number of well-documented open APIs, as this is clearly a platform play where developers can let explode their creativity for thousands of apps tapping into my body, mind, and soul. And to fully bite the bullet of transparency and surveillance, we have added a couple of more secret “dark” APIs to give direct access to governments and other trustworthy organizations looking after the greater good of society at large. But I am deviating.

The mask and the tube are there to add extra oxygen and creative gases, because the sensations are so strong that I need to breath much more consciously to let my heart pumps more oxygen in the blood streams. I can tune the tube, for example per season or month, when for example in April I get an extra dose of laughing gas, and in May some smell or spring blossoms to bring me back to my 60ies hippie memories.

One of the earlier versions had an API with Twitter that made it much easier for me to tweet. I just had to think “tweet”, and hop, there where 140 characters describing what I had spotted in my 2,500 RSS feeds that I follow on a daily basis.

But now we can go a lot further

Jung Man and his Symbols

Many of you know that I am a deep expert in the works of Carl Jung, especially his Book of Dreams, The Man and his Symbols, and his work on the Self, the Archetypes, the personal and the collective unconscious

Jung Sphere

Illustration from the book: “Jung, a very short introduction” by Anthony Stevens

What we discovered with Fishbit, is that sharing as we know in Facebook, Twitter, etc is so… well, outdated. If we reflect on Jung, this sort of FB-sharing only addresses the outer shell of who we are, the ego. In many cases that ego is made up and self-created, and by no means reflecting our deeper selves and motivations. Now, with Fishbit we can tap into that power.

Now, I can share my dreams as they happen. The Fishbit sensors sense when I am entering my REM sleep, can capture my dreams, and in the preferences I can set whether I want my dream to be shared as a literal transcript, as a film scenario or as a piece of poetry.

Now, I can connect my collective and personal conscious to the grid, and share with vendors my really true subconscious needs, to they can shoot better ads to me, the target. Finally! Indeed, as my hero Frank Zappa used to say: “without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.”

Zappa deviation norm

And is it not progress when now, for the first time, data, dualism, humanism and the deep unconscious merge into a exciting melting pot with unseen business opportunities on the medium and long term? I hope you share my enthusiasm for this wonderful new world. Welcome to the world of Fishbit. Welcome to my ultimate cyborg make-over.

UPDATE: obviously this post was related to it’s fishy publication date. Thanks for your reactions of concern about my health, I am doing 100% fine😉

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“The Cambrian explosion was the relatively rapid appearance of most major animal life forms, accompanied by major diversification of organisms. Before, most organisms were simple, composed of individual cells occasionally organised into colonies. Over the following 70 or 80 million years the rate of evolution accelerated by an order of magnitude and the diversity of life began to resemble that of today.” (Adapted from Wikipedia )

I believe we are witnessing a similar “Cambrian Explosion of everything” in the information technology evolution of the recent years, and we see a relatively rapid appearance of new “life” forms, new building blocks for the way we do business in this hyper-connected economy.

This thought came into my mind when attending recently the Cloud Identity Summit in Vail, Colorado 16-19 July 2012.

Explosion of API’s

During the pre-conference workshops, I had already seen the explosion of a whole set of new authentication methods and digital identity concepts like SAML, OAuth 2.0, OpenID Connect, OIX, Facebook Connect, Google’s Accountholder.com initiative, etc, etc

And then came Craig Burton with a presentation announced as “The future of Authentication” but in essence a variation of his epic talk on “Identity and the API economy”. His full prezi presentation is here. (Disclosure: Craig has been advising us on our Digital Asset Grid research project)

  • If this evolution goes on, we’ll have 30K “open” APIs by 2016
  • But most enterprise API’s are not open, they are kept private, and their growth rate is 5 times that of open API’s. They are also referred to as “Dark API’s”, because you don’t see these species in the open.

Craig then showed some staggering stats of open API’s, the so-called “API Billionaires”

If you do the calculation, this means 150,000 API calls per second for Twitter!

Update: apparently most of these stats come from John Musser @johnmusser from The Programmable Web. Credits are made in Craig’s prezi, but not apparent in my post here. Sorry, John !

Craig believes – and I subscribe – that we will see a very fast evolution where

“everyone and everything will have its API”

And every API needs its identity. Leading to the staggering conclusion that we will need to provision more than 1,000 new identities per second.

In enterprise, one of the more accepted federated identity authentication and authorization standards is SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language). Craig created some consternation by stating, “SAML is dead”, because it is not made for the provisioning of this Cambrian explosion of identities. In essence the SAML model does not scale. For this type of scale, manual provisioning does not work anymore, we need high levels of automation, also at the provisioning level.

Explosion of Nodes

In his Cloud Identity Summit presentation, Craig was focusing on the explosion of number of API’s and the identities they will require.

Let me give another dimension, triggered by the research work we are doing on the Digital Asset Grid: when Craig talks about “everyone and everything will get an API”, I’d like to offer the dimension of “entities” aka “nodes in a grid” that need share data with each other. Those entities can be:

  • Humans
  • Group of humans – a good example is a Google “circle”, it’s a group of people without legal entity and therefore no liabilities associated
  • Companies – another type of groups of people – with legal entity and liability. Note that the liability of a non-profit is different from a commercial organization, from a educational institution, etc
  • But now we also add devices to the mix
  • And programs – pieces of software code – that act on our behalf or independently
  • Services and 3rd parties representing the seller, and 4th parties representing the buyer.
  • And personal and corporate clouds, where persons and corporations will keep the data they want to share in context with all the other entities in this grid of nodes.

And all these entities will get an API and will need to get an identity. It is leading to a “Catastrophic Complexity” unless we find a way to govern our communities differently, less manual, and highly automated.

It was very interesting to see that in the closing plenary of the Summit, Bob Blakley – now Global Head of Information Security at Citigroup – introduced the concept of the “Limited Liability Persona” that you could select as your identity to participate in certain data sharing use-cases. I’d like to emphasise he talks “personas” (plural of persona) and not “persons”. For example using your Limited Liability Persona “1” for getting a bank-account, and Persona “2” for your health transactions, etc.

This multiplication in personas will just add to the number of identities to deal with.

Explosion of Data

Big Data, Small Data, Real-Time Data, Fast Data, etc… I guess you are familiar with the buzzwords. I would like to share some insights that go beyond the generalities heard at most conferences.

Have a look at Avinash Kaushik – Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google – in his fascinating talk at Strata 2012 earlier this year. And especially pay attention as from minute 4:00 where he introduces Donald Rumsfeld as one of the “greatest philosophers when it comes to analytics”:

“Reports say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are the known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know”

And then there is this recent Future of Internet PEW report that opens with:

Big Data: Experts say new forms of information analysis are helping us be more nimble and adaptive, but they worry over humans’ capacity to understand and use new tools well

And in the opening para:

We swim in a sea of data … and the sea level is rising rapidly. Tens of millions of connected people, billions of sensors, trillions of transactions now work to create unimaginable amounts of information. An equivalent amount of data is generated by people simply going about their lives, creating what the McKinsey Global Institute calls “digital exhaust”—data given off as a byproduct of other activities such as their Internet browsing and searching or moving around with their smartphone in their pocket.

“The realisation of dynamic and emergent systems as a natural order will cause people to realize the foolishness of trying to game systems to the Nth degree. We will see the rise of more algorithmic thinking among average people, and the application of increasingly sophisticated algorithms to make sense of large-scale financial, environmental, epidemiological, and other forms of data. Innovations will be lauded as long as they register a blip in the range of large-scale emergent phenomena.”

Explosion of Time

This leads me into one of the coolest presentations I have seen on big data, high frequency trading and the new algorithmic ecosystem by Sean Gourley from Quid.com at TEDxNewWallStreet

Especially watch the section as from minute 9:00 or so, where he lets us discover how machines are doing business in matter of nanoseconds: a world of machines where black-swans almost become the norm!

It is not so much that more time is created, but more some form or time “implosion”, where things happen in milli- and nano-seconds timeframes, an outer-space alien to human beings.

Btw: Sean Gourley will be with us at Innotribe@Sibos Osaka 2012 in the session about The Future of Big and Small Data

Explosion of Mobile

Also repeated over and over again at Cloud Identity Summit by different speakers. Whereas many of the suggested solutions consisted of some form of “identity bridges” or translators if you want, I start to believe we come at a point where also here the existing metaphors and techniques are not adapted to the new paradigm of super-scale.

I have seen so many statistics and data that mobile is big, I prefer to refer to the mother of all internet trends, Mary Meeker who moved last year from Morgan Stanley to Kleiner Perkins Caufield Beyers with her May 2012 update on Internet trends.

As from slide #29, she introduces  the “Re-Imagination of nearly everything”

And closes her presentation with

“This cycle of tech disruption

is materially faster & broader

then prior cycles…”

Explosion of Decentralization

With some delay, I found some time this week to watch Don Tapscott’s talk at  TEDGlobal 2012 where he gets into “the interest of the collective”

Tapscott points out that this is “Not an Information Age, but an Age of Networked Intelligence

And Don Tapscott nails it when he summarised the 4 principles for the open world:

  • Collaboration
  • Transparency
  • Sharing
  • Empowerment

The meta-story underpinning all this, is probably well reflected in the recent essay “The Democratization of Globalization” by Parag Khanna: We are not only moving into the age of Networked Intelligence, but we are also moving into Globalization 5.0 that is characterized by a high level of fragmentation and decentralization.

“Call it Globalization 5.0, the most decentralized form of the phenomenon in history. If succeeding in Globalization 5.0 comes down to exhibiting a single trait, it would be resilience—a decentralized, node-to-node way of doing business, where hundreds or thousands of points of interconnection form a giant web of commerce, information and social good. Those who can demonstrate resilience will adapt and thrive. Those who cling to the old, centralised paradigm do so at their own risk”

I am deeply convinced that the “Cambrian Explosion of Everything” is leading us very fast in a highly fragmented world of heterogeneous entities that are sharing and analysing data at warp speed.

It’s a new world

that will soon require new levels of

governance, security, identity

and community or commons management

Who could be the neutral trusted organisation for the financial industry to deliver us that resilience and trust for the next superfast and hyper-connected data-age?

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The last couple of weeks I have been aroused with many ideas and reflections on Personal Digital Assets and on Digital Assets in general.

The journey started some weeks ago with my prezi talk at TEDxNewWallStreet and included my participation to the WEF “tiger team” on Personal Data, where a group of 30 experts are looking at what is needed to make realize the vision of Personal data as a new economic “asset class”. Personal data created by and about people, touching all aspects of society. That group is stitching the pieces together for a framework of business, technical and legal elements that are needed to underpin this vision.

However, the following video from Kynetx was the big aha-moment during my 4-weeks tour on the subject.

I never thought of a Personal Data Store as a “Personal Event Network”.

This changes everything ™

indeed as Phil Windley (@windley), CTO of Kynetx says.

One years ago, there was this beautiful video animation by David Siegel (@pullnews), a great vision of distributed nodes of personal data content talking to each other through API’s.

In the meantime, there is a rich ecosystem of start-ups that are building something very similar as we speak.

Maybe not yet to its fullest grand vision, but definitely going way beyond the traditional concept of a “personal data store”.

Check out leading start-ups such as Personal.com. Btw I dream of one day seeing an integration of Personal.com with an on-line bank. Anybody needing a brokering service here ?😉

What Kynetx is adding to the mix are three important things:

  • the “event” based thinking
  • the prototol for the data-web
  • Cloud Operating System

Event based thinking:

He really nailed it down for me last time I met him:

  • In the past we had RPC (Remote Procedure Calls), in essence fire and forget
  • Then came request/response: you ask for something, and you get it
  • Now there is the “event-signal”. It does not ask for something, it just says “something’s happened”, and any entity in the network can subscribe to the event and decide itself to do something with it.

Protocol for the data-web:

The other aha-moment was when Phil was doing his talk at the New Digital Economies conference on 27 March 2012.

For those who remember, in the past we had silo-d email systems. AOL, Compuserve, etc. They did not interoperate. We got rid of those silos when there was a standard protocol, allowing competing commercial and open source servers to talk to each other in SMTP.

We now see the same with data, personal data, social graphs. We have data-silos (Facebook, Google, Bank systems, Health systems, Government systems, etc). What we need is a “Data-Server” and a “Protocol” that allows these data servers to be interoperable.

Cloud Operating Systems:

Phil has explained all this beautifully in a series of blogs on www.windley.com and I get very inspired when he makes a call for thinking about personal clouds as “cloud operating systems”

All this, Phil calls “The Live Web” (Amazon Associates link). He is so excited about this that he has written a book about it.

In other words, start thinking about your “Personal Data Locker” become a “Personal Event Cloud”: your personal data-server in the cloud that can talk and do things on your behalf, can make decisions, interpret rules, etc…

And it can talk to any entity, any node in the web (or at least nodes in any discoverable namespace). In real-time. In multiplexing mode (meaning the node can be both a server and a client).

It suddenly dawned to me that over the last years we have been hyping “The Programmable WEB”, and that if we are serious about customer centric identity or “customer centric” or “personal” whatever, we may wish to start with the “me”.

Suddenly it was flashing in my brain: “The  Programmable Me”

“Me” is becoming a node in the grid. We are all nodes in the grid, sending and receiving signals. Like neurons passing an electrical or chemical signal to another cell. And start thinking “synapses” when you talk about the API’s of your Programmable Me.

From Wikipedia:

Synapses are essential to neuronal function: neurons are cells that are specialized to pass signals to individual target cells, and synapses are the means by which they do so”

The APIs of your “Programmable Me”, of your Personal Event Cloud are indeed the means to make all these nodes interoperable.

Add to this the graph-thinking of Drummond Reed (@drummondreed), Co-Chair of the XDI/XRI Technical Committee of OASIS. Check-out http://wiki.oasis-open.org/xdi/XdiGraphModel and more specifically some of the Powerpoints out there:

Each circle in this drawing represents a node in the grid. I really encourage you to look at this as a graph – this ensemble of inter-connected nodes – as something 3-dimensional, possibly multi-dimensional.

We have all been trained to think hierarchical. Flat files with a root, that sort of thing.

We have to learn to think in graph-models.

You can start anywhere in the galaxy. Every point can be the center of the universe. There is no root. At least, not in absolute terms. Yes, in relative terms with respect to the other nodes in the universe…

A grand vision starts to develop when you realize that the nodes can be any type of entities:

  • Humans (or their agents)
  • Circles (like Google Circles) of humans (entities without legal form)
  • Corporations, non-profits, governmental or educational institution (aka organizational constructs of humans with specific legal form)
  • We should also include less traditional forms of organizational constructs such as co-operatives, P2P communities, Commons,…
  • Programs (yes, software code), that perform tasks on behalf of the entities above or that operates as fully independent entities.

Each of these nodes/entities can participate in transactions – or better, “value dances”. “Dance” because the protocol is multiplexing, not one-way request-response.

Of course all these entities will require identity, in the broadest sense, not only URI or ID number, but in the sense of a spectrum, a graph that can be shared in context with other nodes/entities.

Sharing the spectrum becomes the essence of trade

What we are witnessing is a 180° turn in the power balance between client and server, slave and master, buyer and supplier, consumer and merchant.

All entities are equal.

We are all equal

Doc Searls (@dsearls) has written a book about it. The Intention Economy. (Amazon Associates Link)

But look at the subtitle: “When Customers Take Charge”.

I like Doc a lot, but his subtitle may suggest that somebody else is in charge: the empowered customer. I am afraid that we may end-up with another un-balance, where the pendulum has swung the other side: where the customer has an unfair data-advantage versus the merchant. But let their be no doubt that today the merchant has the unfair data-advantage, and I read Doc’s book more like a plea for getting the balance right rather than a socialist rant against establishment represented by the “big boys”, the vendors, the merchants, the silos like Facebook and Google.

In all the discussions about the Empowered Customers, we see classic commerce use cases like buying a book, buying flowers for grandma, etc

But I would like to make the jump to truly balanced financial transactions and what “dances between equals” would mean in that space. I invite you to think about your bank as the merchant, the merchant of financial services, and the consumer as the retail or wholesale customer of the bank.

In such scenario, the fundamental shift in thinking already happens at the Point of Sale (POS). We even have the question the term “Point of Sale”. It stems from an old thinking where the merchant “owns” the customer.

YOU are the point of sale

YOU are the point of data integration!

In the past the POS was the master,

now it will be YOU who is in charge,

or your agent,

the “Programmable Me”.

What if we start thinking about banking where YOU are the point of data-integration? What if your bank would offer you a service that enables you to manage your Personal Event Cloud?

I don’t know how it would look like, but it probably would be something triggered from your mobile phone. It probably would look like one of the Next-Gen banks (Simple, Movenbank, Fidor) with a Personal Event Network out-of-the-box.

Some of these Next-Gen banks are already accepting the CRED of your Social Graph as a much richer (in all senses of the word) basis for “Know you Customer”. Although we probably also have to inverse that: from the captive notion of “know your customer” to the user-centric meaning of “know your bank”. Then we may come back to the “primitive” of the meaning of “bank”: a bench where two people meet to build a relationship of value.

So, the discussion is NOT about the next coolest thing for doing a copy-cat of existing money-transactions through the latest greatest gadget like NFC or Bump, or whatever.

Some of all this already permeates in a recent Techcrunch article suggesting the “NFC is already out-moded”

“The thing to keep in mind here” says Crone, “is that NFC was developed more than 20 years ago. It was first deployed 10 years ago. 10 years ago, we didn’t have ubiquitous access to data plans. We didn’t have more smartphones in circulation than feature phones and we had to depend on an ‘offline’ connection for processing payments. But now, there are 124 million households that have more than one device connected to the internet. Typically, that’s a smartphone, but very quickly it’s becoming a tablet.”

Also Christopher Carfi (@ccarfi) starts thinking in this direction in his recent post “Musings in Small Data”.  In there, he refers to a video of Jerry Michalski (@jerrymichalski) of the REXpedition doing a demo his “Personal Brain”. (Disclosure: I am member of the REXpedition). The video is titled “Gardening My Brain” and the talk was given at Personal Digital Archiving on February 22, 2012 in San Francisco.

It’s a pity that this talk is in the context of a personal digital archiving conference. Because, in my opinion, we have dramatically evolved from archiving to sharing.

Sharing of information and digital assets is becoming the new normal in this world of Abundance of information.

Christopher Carfi nails it when he says:

As these issues become more widely understood, more individuals will be tracking their own information. Perhaps it won’t be to the level that Jerry has done it in the video above, but it will be happening. This means that we, while wearing our business hats, will need to be developing real relationships with our customers. We need to listen to what they are saying, what they are asking for, and working collaboratively with them in order to help them fulfill their needs. In the best cases, we’ll have built up levels of trust with our customers and will have been given the explicit permission to access our customers’ personal data stores. In doing so, we’ll be able to actually take the guesswork out of the equation that was noted so clearly above in the Facebook example and will, instead, be able to connect directly with our customers’ intentions and deliver value on their terms.

Creating an economy based on the principles of relations is of course at the heart of the REXpedition. It is probably the next territory for competitive advantage beyond the mundane money transaction.

All this is about creating “Relationship Channels”, channels the vendor can tune into of the user has opened the channel.

All the above are of course very much related to our Innotribe incubation project “Digital Asset Grid” (DAG), which is about the sharing of any digital asset with any party.

All of the above is also very relevant to Mark Pesce’s (@mpesce) thinking about “hypereconomics”, described in one of my previous posts “The future rarely arrives when planned”.

The real question is then: “Where will value be created when all the connections between nodes have become frictionless?” Mark has some ideas on this, and he describes them as “irreducibles

No matter how ‘smooth’ and frictionless hyperconnected commerce becomes, certain frictions in the business world will persist.  These represent both speed humps and opportunities.  The businesses of the 21st century will find leverage and differentiation by identifying and exploiting them.”

What those “irreducibles” are, you will be able to discover at our upcoming Innotribe event in Bangkok on 26-27 April 2012, where together with Mark Pesce we will have some great interactive learning experiences. Be there, or read the report that we will make on this post-conference.

If you really want to take a meta-view on all this, I believe all the examples above illustrate our species being in search for a deeper meaning, a thicker value in everything we experience:

  • We are in search for a higher level of consciousness, a further evolution in Spiral Dynamics, in search for a richer value system, much richer than the pure transaction world that is the narrow lens of today
  • We start looking at companies being nodes in the grid, in fair-trade constellations of equals, trying to maximize the commons and contribution and giving back to society
  • We want to go beyond the “advertising” thinking of “let’s hit the target with an ad”. We are in search for a better world with more Thick value and less Thin value
  • We are starting to see the emergence of “The universe as a Computer” as wonderfully described by Nova Spivack (@novaspivack) in one of his milestone posts last month.

All the above is about defining, articulating, and living lives of greater meaning. With the “M” of meaning. Umair Hague (@umairh) already in 2009 called this “Generation-M”, which in essence is anchored in “constructive capitalism”

Generation M is more about what you do and who you are than when you were born. So the question is this: do you still belong to the 20th century – or the 21st?

I would like to close with a reference to The Wellbeing Revolution (Amazon Associates Link) by James McWhinney (@JamesMcWhinney).

What I liked about this book is that it encourages you to look at where you are in your life, and to look at it through the “M” lens. The lens of meaning.

I then discover that what I am writing today, what job I am doing, who I am married to, was probably all meant to be this way. Not “meant” in a deterministic way. No, “meant” as everything I have done, the decisions I have made, my architecture studies, my infection by the identity virus, my journey in Leading By Being, etc… all these things have made me who I am.

What if I could capture all this richness about me, and have a tool and an infrastructure to share that on my terms and conditions, in context, and with the parties or nodes in the grid that I choose to? What if I could share my meaning in a programmable way?

I would end up with something called “the programmable me”

By @petervan from the SWIFT Innotribe team.

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This post is a third in a series on personal digital identity. Part-1 “The unpolished diamond was published here in August 2010 and Part-2 ‘The Digital Identity Tuner” was published here in September 2010.

Today’s post is not reporting about the tour we did in June 2010, but rather some reflections based on a number of serendipitous encounters during the last two months.


I am a strong believer in serendipity or the power of encounters by accident and the resulting idea shifts that can be generated during such meeting of different expertise.

My first encounter was with Azeem Azhar, CEO of Peerindex.

One day I was at a conference, and one of the speakers asked the audience “I would like to know what sort of application you guys want me to built”. It was one of those conferences where folks twitter a lot during the sessions, and I posted a tweet saying: “I would like you to develop my Digital Identity Tuner”.

It got re-tweeted, and in the end got picked-up by Sean Park from Nauiokaspark (he was one of the Innotribe Leaders at Sibos Amsterdam, and he is also an investor in Peerindex), who introduced me to Azeem.

Peerindex helps you understand and benefit from your social and reputation capital online. How much is your online reputation worth ? PeerIndex is a web technology company that is algorithmically mapping out the social web.

The way we see it, the social web now allows everyone endless possibilities in discovering new information on people, places, and subjects. We believe that the traditional established authorities and experts – journalists, academics, are now joined by a range of interested and capable amateurs and professionals. As this locus of authority shifts, many new authorities emerge. PeerIndex wants to become the standard that identifies, ranks, and scores these authorities — and help them benefit from the social capital they have built up

Btw, my Peerindex is 60. That’s based on my digital footprint on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and my blogging activities. It is obvious to see that this number “60” may one day translate into some virtual social currency.


There are similar services like this: Klout is well known. Same principle. Some trend toward social currency of your personal platform. It’s also obvious that this capital will become very important for recruiters to find the people who have real on-line influence and reputation.


Like Peerindex, Klout also offers some more drill-down features, showing you influence “style” for example:


As you start drilling down in these data, this starts to smell quite a lot like some of the zooming in/out ideas I elaborated on in “Digital Identity Tuner”.

Azeem and I will continue talking about this. What Azeem liked in the “Tuner” were the ideas of control of what pieces of my profile I want to share with whom in what context.


My dream is that we have a prototype/mockup

ready by Sibos Toronto in September 2011,

where we probably will have

an Innotribe theme on Digital Identity

My second encounter was with Phil Windley, CTO and Co-Founder of Kynetx

One day – it was a day after a conference has ended – I was going to have breakfast just before checking out from the hotel and flying back home. At the table next to me, I see a guy working on his PC. I see a big sticker “Kynetx” on the PC. I had heard the name of the company several times before, so I said “good morning” and quickly introduced myself. It happened to be Phil Windley.




Kynetx is a private company that provides the first Context Automation Development Platform. This platform, powered by Kynetx Network Services (KNS), provides easy-to-use development tools to create context-sensitive, cross-platform apps that help build relationships between app owners and users.

I would describe it as

an event based integration engine

in the cloud


So we made contact, and once back home we arranged a Webex demo session.

Boy! What I saw really blew me away from my socks ! I saw a demo with a credit card vendor who used Kynetx to establish a new direct channel with the credit card holder, completely disintermediating the banks. I saw another demo with really very deep integration of DBS360 into Salesforce.com

I knew he had something to do with identity, and back home I found out that Phil Windley also co-founded and co-produces the Internet Identity Workshop with “identity woman” Kaliya & VRM-guru Doc Searls.

Phil has a great blog called Technometria


He has a great perspective on the key differentiator between today’s social networks and Personal Data Ecosystem the emergence of the personal data store where individuals control their own data.

This is of course very relevant to our eMe winner project of Sibos 2009. As I mentioned already many times before, with hindsight the eMe premise of a single or even distributed Personal Data “Store” or “Locker” is flawed. On Windley’s blog I finally found a good discourse on why it is flowed.

Check out the following two posts:

Like always, there is nothing such convincing like a demo.

The video below shows a conceptual demo illustrating the opportunities that are available for automating the contextual activities that people undertake every day. At the heart of the demo is a personal data store and Kynetx. The interactions are all done using real Kynetx applications that are plumbed in a realistic manner. The scenario uses 5 different APIs and a dozen individual rulesets in the Kynetx system.

In the scenario, Scott Phillips gets bad news from his radiologist: he needs surgery. You’ll see that a personal data store and a collection of loosely coupled Kynetx apps automate the frustratingly disjointed activities associated with Scott’s bad news and focused his attention so he can complete the tasks with the least amount of effort.


Kynetx and Personal Data Services from Phil Windley on Vimeo.


My third encounter was with nobody less than Esther Dyson.

She was talking at the last Defrag conference. She was doing a fantastic talk “On Exploration”. It was about “exploring yourself”, “discovering yourself”. With my Leading by Being background, I was super concentrated.

As part of her talk, she showed her personal DNA generated by 23andMe, one of the companies she is investing in.


Btw, one of the other investors in 23andMe is Anne Wojcicki, who is married to Sergey Brin of Google. She has an active interest in health information, and together she and Brin are developing new ways to improve access to it. As part of their efforts, they have brainstormed with leading researchers about the human genome project. "Brin instinctively regards genetics as a database and computing problem. In a recent announcement at Google’s Zeitgeist conference, Sergey Brin said he hoped that some day everyone would learn their genetic code in order to help doctors, patients, and researchers analyze the data and try to repair bugs.

23andMe indeed offers a genetic testing service that provides information and tools to understand your DNA. With a simple saliva sample they’ll help you gain insight into your traits, from baldness to muscle performance. Discover risk factors for 92 diseases. Know your predicted response to drugs, from blood thinners to coffee. And uncover your ancestral origins. These days the promotional rate for such service is 99 USD !

Here is how it works:



The system generates personalized reports on your health status, your disease carrier status, your disease risk, your drug response and your traits. In other words,


there is no place to hide anymore


You see the impact of your lifestyle on your DNA. You can change something to your lifestyle, or you can continue to live in a state of denial. As Esther was explaining “its all about motivation” albeit a different motivation than the one meant in Daniel Pink’s latest book “Drive”.

What Esther Dyson was describing was a DNA-version of the Quantified Self, a movement of people who measure all sorts of things about themselves such as heartbeat, blood pressure, time usage, sleep patterns, etc and who put all that information in the cloud.


Obviously, it would be great if also these folks would have a Digital Identity Tuner so that they could control in a more granular what what aspect of their identity/footprint they want to share with whom in what context.

For example, you may want to share your heartbeat with your insurance company to get better insurance policy and rates, but maybe you do not want to share this with your bank.

At the end of Esther’s talk, I observed that what she was describing were actually body listeners, sensors about your human “engine”, “machine”. I wonder if there are no similar implementations about the other side of “me”, namely about my mind, my consciousness, my feelings.

I asked Esther Dyson if she was aware of any such consciousness-as-a-service in the cloud thing. She thought it was an interesting question, but that she did not feel ready yet to share all that with the world.

I love the “Know Yourself” theme:

  • From the one hand it takes quantified measurements from the human body, the “engine”
  • On the other hand, it could take quantified (?) measurements from the human mind, the “capabilities” such as social cognition, or capability to be happy, etc


Both will drive status

Both in place and time


Status is all what it is about these days. And being able to share it. And participate to it. And engage with it. What Clay Shirky called “Cognitive Surplus”. What Stowe Boyd calls “Social Cognition”.

So many reasons to start thinking of a Digital Identity Tuner that lets you control status.

Digital Identity, Digital Status, and Digital Footprint start to converge into a personal data “something”. Some started calling the “something” a “store” or a “locker”. Others think more of a “service”.

Others are aware that our vocabulary is very real-world inspired, often based on physical concepts like “storing”, or “location”, or “posting”, etc… They prefer to wait until an appropriate terms pops up and call it “Personal Digital x” with the “x” standing for “something”. I called it Digital Identity Tuner.




It is clear that this sort of identity is much more than a card, token or PKI certificate.

There is a role for a

neutral, non-for-profit, trustworthy

organization to offer

an identity and trust service

for the financial industry

Who could that be ?


Sean Park’s presentation at next week’s SOFE (SWIFT Operational Forum EMEA) will introduce you to a financial services framework, with trust and identity as foundational services. That’s on 14 December 2010 at 9am in Conference Centre Dolce, close to Brussels.

A number of the above ideas should be part of a Digital Identity Research incubation project that we will probably kick-off at SWIFT in the second half of 2011.

Let the comments flow.

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This blog post is Part-2 of a series that started as the ongoing thinking after our Digital Identity Tour in June 2010. In Part-1, I developed the idea of the Unpolished Diamond.

Today, I will entertain you on the concept of a Digital Identity Tuner, which in its own is also a further evolution of the Identity Rights System 3.0 post of March 2010.

It all started coming together when – during the tour – we visited PayPal.

This visit was at the end of the tour. We were welcomed by Eve Maler, Distinguished Engineer, Identity Services at PayPal, and Andrew Nash, Senior Director Identity Services at PayPal

Eve MalerAndrew Nash

These folks of PayPal basically told us to forget what we had seen earlier in the week. These are probably some of the smartest identity folks around, so you pay attention.

Indeed, I was amazed how much further ahead they were, not only in their conceptual thinking, but also in the pace at which they define and rapidly test new protocol standards.

The eye-opener for me was that there is no business in identity, but there is some significant potential when flipping the discussion to sharing and managing of user data.


It is not that much about identity,

but more about digital footprint.


Happens that a couple of weeks later I read Tony Fish’s book My Digital Footprint, where the author explains razor sharp that there is a difference between digital identity and digital footprint.

At about the same time, I saw appearing on the internet all sorts of semantically tagged enabled viewers, like this one from Recorded Future.


Recorded Future lets you search and find for events, based on the WHAT, the WHO/WHERE and the WHEN.


What if we could do this

for a person’s digital footprint ?


Here is where my Digital Identity Tuner comes into the picture:


Remember those old radios ? You could “tune” into a radio channel, and there was a big button, and if you turned that button an arrow would move over a “map” of pre-defined radio stations.

What if we could do the same on your digital footprint ?

Petervan Digital Persona AUG 2010

The spectrum above is my “Digital Persona” as generated recently by MIT’s Digital Personas project. Personas shows you how the internet sees you.

Every color in the spectrum is about a certain dimension of your digital footprint: books you read, education, political preferences, musical preferences, professional attributes, etc, etc…

What if you could make that spectrum “clickable” ? Not only via a browser, but also via API’s. What if you could zoom in/out that spectrum or certain aspects of it ?

So far, we have “tuned” in two dimensions:

  • On the horizontal axis, hovering over the different color dimensions
  • On the “depth” axis, zooming in/out to get more or less detail

Let me add the third dimension of Time.


I could tune into the past, but I could also tune into the future, as my digital footprint does not only contain past behavior, but also contains real-time data (such as devices that I may wear to beam my heartbeat-data to the Microsoft or Google or Wallgreens or whoevers Healthvault when running a couple of miles on my cloud enabled Nike shoes.


It also contains data about my future, as I keep my calendar in Google Calendar, for example. Or the event for which I bought tickets. Or even on-line streaming events for which I subscribed.




UPDATE-2: or check out this TED Video, on the Quantified Self, with Gary Wolf’s intriguing new pastime: using mobile apps and always-on gadgets to track and analyze your body, mood, diet, spending — just about everything in daily life you can measure — in gloriously geeky detail.


So, the third dimension is time.


What if I would have a sort of

“Remote Control”


that could let me navigate through my digital footprint on those three dimensions. It’s like steering a helicopter via remote control.



Or maybe more dimensions. You would end-up with something that navigates you through a fractal or so…

Of course, we don’t live alone on this planet.


We are part of tribes

of swarms

with leaders and followers


I love the metaphor of “SWARM”


Imagine that we have a similar digital tuner for navigating the swarm. For seeing links between the WHO’s in the swarm.

UPDATE: just a couple of hours after my initial posting of this blog entry, I came across this great post by Greg on Digital Tonto about “The Story of Networks”. At the end he refers to a great TED talk by Nicholas Christakis “How social networks predict epidemics” 


In essence, it shows the “swarm” of communities, leaders and followers and their relationships. And how germs, ideas, memes, etc spread in a community based on the same S-curves as innovations happen. Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD, MPH, is an internist and social scientist at Harvard University who conducts research on social factors that affect health, health care, and longevity.

So far, we looked at “navigating”. But the system would also allow me to define and manage who gets access to what parts of my digital footprint in what specific contexts or constraints. Not only “access”, but also “usage”.

For all that to happen, we need to fundamentally rethink how we deal with digital footprint.


We have to navigate away from identity systems that mimic our brick-and-mortar world, that are still based on the metaphor of identity cards, or passports, or electronic equivalents based on PKI systems and certificates.


No, we almost need a new semantic tagging language. Not to “tag” pages or servers, but to tag my digital footprint.

And not only “tag” it but allocate and manage “usage” rights to it. And I should be the owner of those data, whether they sit on my computer, in Facebook, or distributed open source models like Diaspora.




So that I end up with a collection of different “where’s” where data about me is kept. It may lead to some new form of DNS, but then a DNS of people. Not pages or servers.

Maybe all this is a bit of futuristic/iconoclastic thinking. Maybe. But when reading the book “Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently” by Dr. George Berns, I came across the following two sentences and took them a little bit out of … context.

But they are so relevant to our identity context:

There are two paths in spectrum: one for identity/categorization and the other for digital footprint / Trail / history/future (time dimension, recording, in the future,…)

The high road is concerned with extracting where objects are located and throws away the elements related to their identity. The low road, on the other hand, is concerned with identification and categorization, and less so with objects’ spatial locations

As Tony Fish so well articulated in his book: we have to separate identity an footprint.

The discussion

about internet identity

has moved from identity to footprint

how we are going to manage that

with a privacy ethic

that is adapted

to our hyper-connected world


Privacy is not dead. It needs to be redefined.

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Check out this interesting company Recorded Future.

This is very relevant to my upcoming post on Digital Identity Tuner 7.0

Start thinking of this metaphor when looking at your digital footprint.

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