Private: Blog

Where there’s folk there’s fire

That headline was, far as I know, first uttered by Britt Blaser in a March 2007 blog post titled The people’s law trumps the power law. It was thirteen years ahead of its time. Among many others, Britt was energized by  The Cluetrain Manifesto‘s 95 Theses, which David Weinberger, Chris Locke, Rick Levine and I nailed to the Web in April 1999. Today the one-liner most often quoted from Cluetrain is its the first of those theses: Markets are conversations,…

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Why we’re not endorsing Contract for the Web

The Contract for the Web is a new thing that wants people to endorse it. While there is much to like in it, what we see under Principle 5 (of 9) is a deal-breaker: Respect and protect people’s privacy and personal data to build online trust. So people are in control of their lives online, empowered with clear and meaningful choices around their data and privacy: By giving people control over their privacy and data rights, with clear and meaningful choices…

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Customers as a Third Force

Almost all arguments in economics are advanced by two almost opposed positions, each walled into the castles of their ideologies, both insisting that their side has the solutions and the other side causes the problems—while meanwhile between the two flows a river of customers who, if they could be heard, and could participate with more than their cash, would have solutions of their own. Customer Commons’s job is giving those customers full agency for dealing with both the businesses and…

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Change of Address (√)

Way back in 2006 or so, in the first Project VRM meetings, our canonical use case was ‘change of address’; that is to say, we wanted individuals to have the ability to update their address in one place and have that flow to multiple suppliers. That seemed easy enough, so we thought at the time; all that’s needed is: – a data store controlled by the individual – a user interface – an API that allowed organisations to connect We…

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Let’s make May 25th Privmas Day

25 May is when the GDPR—the General Data Protection Regulation—went into effect. Finally, our need for privacy online has legal backing strong enough to shake the foundations of surveillance capitalism, and maybe even drop it to the ground—with our help. This calls for a celebration. In fact, many of them. Every year. So let’s call 25 May Privmas Day. Hashtag: #Privmas. And, to celebrate our inaugural Privmas let’s make a movement out of blocking third party cookies, since most of…

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Privacy is personal. Let’s start there.

The GDPR won’t give us privacy. Nor will ePrivacy or any other regulation. We also won’t get it from the businesses those regulations are aimed at. Because privacy is personal. If it wasn’t we wouldn’t have invented clothing and shelter, or social norms for signaling to each what’s okay and what’s not okay. On the Internet we have none of those. We’re still as naked as we were in Eden. But let’s get some perspective here:  we invented clothing and shelter long…

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How customers help companies comply with the GDPR

That’s what we’re starting this Thursday (26 April) at GDPR Hack Day at MIT. The GDPR‘s “sunrise day” — when the EU can start laying fines on companies for violations of it — is May 25th. We want to be ready for that: with a cookie of our own baking that will get us past the “gauntlet walls” of consent requirements that are already appearing on the world’s commercial websites—especially the ad-supported ones. The reason is this: Which you can also see…

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Digging Indieweb

For perspective, we are at #2 above, spreading some love at IIW (the Internet Identity Workshop) toward Indieweb, at a breakout session hosted by Tom Brown. I’ve always liked Indieweb, and have wanted to be involved with it, but have found myself inconvenienced by geography. Not this time. I also think everybody who wants to be involved in any way with Customer Commons should dig Indieweb as well, since it’s all about giving everybody independent yet engaging ways to work on the Web.…

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Hey publishers, let’s get past mistaking tracking protection for ad blocking

Here’s what the Washington Post tells me when I go to one of its pieces (such as this one): Here’s the problem: the Post says I’m blocking ads when I’m just protecting myself from tracking. In fact I welcome ads. By that I mean real ads. Not messages that look like real ads, but are direct marketing messages aimed by tracking. Let’s call them fake ads. Here’s one way to spot them: When you see one of those in the corner of an ad, it means the ad is “interest…

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Defining #customertech

Look at your phone. What apps there are yours? I mean yours in the way a hammer in your hand is yours. Or your car when you’re driving it. In other words, an extension of yourself. The phone itself may seem to be that. But the apps? Not as much. Not yet. Especially not in the commercial world where we operate as customers. While there is an abundance of tech on the corporate side, all meant to give us a better…

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