The Mine! Project

open source project for online data and relationships logistics

Anonymised data a relationship doesn’t make

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My weekend feed reading yielded Rob Knight’s post on Data Egalitarianism. It looks at impact of customer data might have on certain type or size of vendor. Here is my comment on the post:

This is a rather narrow interpretation of what Mine! will enable for vendors… (or an independent realisation of what customer data sharing means for vendors). In your scenario, the relationship seems completely missing, based on this:

Consider any local, independent shop – a greengrocer, for example. Let us imagine that this greengrocer has access to the VRM data of a reasonable cross-section of the local community; this needn’t be more than a few hundred people. In return for providing (suitably anonymised) data about their shopping habits, these customers receive a small discount when shopping at the store in future.

But relationships cannot exist via anonymised data – the whole point of my approach to VRM is to focus on a ‘relationship’ with the vendor, one that is more equal than the current one. The data I voluntarily provide to vendors is a proxy for my relationships with them. The value is not in the data ‘dump’ but in the data flow, which can be cut off at any point the vendor abuses the relationship.

The challenge we are working on under the Mine! project is finding most effective ways vendors can capture and benefit from customers’ (directly shared) data WITHOUT distorting or abusing the relationship that the data signifies. As a customer, there is no way I will share my data with a vendor if I know that the vendor treats it merely as an input for their database or datamining and not as a basis for a mutually benefitial relationship. And I hasten to add that a more targetted marketing is NOT a benefit to me as a customer. Same applies to ‘discounts’ none of which are on my own terms.

That is why Mine! is designed in a manner that allows me to discontinue data flow to any vendor whenever I feel it unnecessary or irrelevant, thereby redressing the balance of power. Vendors will have to respect my data and by extension the person behind it. At least that’s the idea.

I am certain that vendors will try to use and abuse the data once people are able to share it, so the greater challenge is to create an environment in which individuals realise that they call the shots.

cross-posted from VRM Hub

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