The Measure of Man

Friday March 1, 2013

The amount of stuff that people publish about themselves online has exploded exponentially in recent years as we’ve shared far more of ourselves with the web through the many social sites we all frequent. In the process we’ve found it’s not always good to overshare but at the same time we’ve learnt that sometimes, who we think we are, and who we actually are, are not the same thing.

That is to say, when we look at what we’ve posted over time ( for instance , what our music taste actually is , as revealed by Spotify’s social sharing or Last.fm’s scrobbling); we might be surprised by what is revealed. Even the opinions we held a couple of years ago can be eye-opening, something that Twitter’s recently released personal archives can attest.

Seeing ourselves in the clear light of the data can be sobering. As multiple books have told us recently we’re not as smart as we think we are about knowing ourselves.

But the value we gain by logging our lives is most clearly shown within Nike’s wildly successful tech innovations Nike+ and now Fuel. Both of these pieces of tech help track physical activity so that you can effortlessly monitor your physical fitness.

Fuel

The success has led to a burgeoning explosion of similar services with the approach spreading far beyond fitness to track sleep, nutrition, financial data and even public utilities through the government’s MiData initiative. All of them, as with the insights provided by the social web, reveal whole aspects of your life in a simple, smart, measurable way, clearly revealing what was only suspected and broadly invisible.

Mint

So, while not everything in these apps is something that you’d necessarily want to share socially, the approach is remarkably similar to that which has grown up with the social web. Clearly there is a ‘big brother’ element to all of these, so once the necessary security concerns have been put in place, what has made these products such a success?

Good user experience and an open service are, above all, what make consumers here so willing to give up their data. In a time where huge amounts of information are held on all of us in big corporate databases, releasing this information in a simple, yet powerful form is key.

So whether it’s the ability to check out your friends’ latest news (Facebook), providing a realtime news service (Twitter) or working out how much exercise you’re really getting (Fuel), to even working out if you should switch electricity supplier (MiData); the reason why they’re successful is the same : they give customers value from the data they’re collecting and do so in a rich, almost entertaining, certainly straightforward format.

As with social, it’ll be this value exchange that will make these new personal data services popular with the public. There is a whole series of opportunities to come, from loyalty cards through to bank accounts, where providing consumers with more of the insightful data on how they use your services will allow organisations to access even more. So while security will always be a high priority, we at Yomego are interested to see what exactly we’ll be able to provide that makes the most for all parties of these new developments. Because after all, as you’d expect from our heritage in social, we’re well used to dealing with and making the most of user feedback.

From Strategy Director Neil @Neilmajor @yomegosocial

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