I want control of my data
Friday, November 23, 2007 by Dave Winer.
A few weeks ago I not only gave $100 to MoveOn.org, but I also encouraged readers of this blog to do so. Now I regret it. Why? Well, I gave them the money thinking I was supporting a group that was working to end the war in Iraq. Now they've launched a campaign against Facebook, a naive one, and in what way is that consistent with the goals of the organization I gave money to?
Every time Facebook moves, they stir up stuff. It happened when they first implemented the innovative news feed feature. All of a sudden you could keep up to date on who's-with-who without visiting their profile page. The users of Facebook had been counting on lack of interest, on obscurity, to keep information they consider private out of view of people, who, because they're "friends" have been granted access to the information. By automating the process, much as RSS readers automated news gathering for blogs and newspapers, the information was no longer obscure.
Facebook held their ground, and now the news feed is part of the fabric of their community, and people presumably are a bit more careful about what they post. That's what they should have been doing all along, a safe computing expert would likely say.
I want Netflix and Yahoo to give me an XML version of my movie ratings, for me to decide what to do with. I've been asking for this for a couple of years, I still don't have it. This is information I created. I want to keep a copy. I want to make sure that Netflix knows about all my Yahoo ratings and vice versa. I'd like to give a copy to Facebook (assuming they agree to not disclose it) and maybe to Amazon, so they can recommend products I might want to purchase (again keeping it to themselves). I want to begin a negotiation with various vendors, where I give them something of value, and they give me back something of value.
The leaders of Silicon Valley begrudgingly gave up their view of us as couch potatoes, now they think of us as generators of content they can put ads on (and pay us nothing). We still need to work on that respect thing. When I have an XML file here on my local hard drive that they want they'll make me a better offer. Two companies that are not as shiny as they used to be, Netflix and Yahoo, have the power to take a leadership role in a what will be the next revolution of the Internet, but neither of them are moving.