Thursday, 22 November 2012

midata – nudging you into an interactive flashbased graph

There's so much wrong with midata, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills initiative to "empower" all us consumers, that you may forget the delightful loopiness of its proposed benefits:
If organisations try to share customer data with each other they invade individuals’ privacy and risk breaching the Data Protection Act. The result is duplication, waste and missed opportunities ...

Tallyzoo, a service dedicated to self monitoring, allows users to measure anything from their caffeine intake to the number of times they cut their grass. Users collect data using a mobile device or website program which creates interactive flashbased graphs enabling them to spot trends and patterns in their consumption habits, work, health and fitness goals. Data is manipulated so that users can share statistics and compare the end results ...

Access to such data represents a ‘holy grail’ data to companies because it explains why people do what they do and predicts what they are going to do next.
Silly old privacy laws. They just get in the way. They're synonymous with waste and duplication. They stand in the way of interactive flashbased  graphs of our coffee consumption and lawn-mowing. With midata choice engines we'll be able to predict the future and control it.

Which mooncalf would fall for this unlikely sales pitch? Cui bono?

There are many answers but one obvious one is Whitehall's Behavioural Insights Team.

They're not having much luck. Most people ridicule the team's nudging job. Their behavioural insight is limited. Tasked with getting UK retailers to sign up to midata, they failed and have now resorted to legislation – the very tool they're meant to abjure.

How could their performance be improved? What would help the Behavioural Insights Team to do its job?

These questions must have haunted Sir-Gus-now-Lord O'Donnell, head of the team's advisory board. And then along came midata. midata and its attendant app-writers, churning out choice engines to help people make life-style decisions, vehicles which could be tuned, perhaps, by Whitehall – who are footing the bill, after all, let's face it – tuned to influence, or nudge people's decisions in a chosen direction, an officially preferred direction ...

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Just after writing the word "pitch", just before "Cui bono", an email appeared from Alan Mitchell, the man who thinks midata will allow us to tell the future more accurately than horoscopes:
Please forward this newsletter to colleagues if you think they will find the content useful. Anyone can sign up to receive the newsletter by joining our registered [sheltered?] community here. We only send the newsletter to people who request to receive it.
Would you like to join this registered community? Perhaps this sample will help to nudge you:
We have published a short, informative paper, ‘midata: where next?’ ... It summarises the new focus areas of the programme and showcases a prize winning example straight from the recent inaugural, ground-breaking midata Hackathon of what innovation and value can be achieved in a new midata-enabled world ...

In a series of blog posts we’ve ... discussed how, by opening up a new private sector market of Identity Providers which can act on an individual’s behalf, the Government is kick starting an ecosystem of enriched, trusted data sharing, stimulating innovation and cost saving opportunities ...

There is further investment in the quantified self space as Canadian company Retrofit announces $8 million in new funding ...
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Added 1.4.13: Nike+ FuelBand and Google Glass: what next for the 'quantified self'?

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