There’s a discussion that’s been going on for some time now about data ownership. Dave Winer at Scripting.com has probably said it the best on his blog for some time now – he’s right on target concerning data ownership. Huh? What does this mean? Read on….I belong to Facebook (and other social networks as well, but I’m using Facebook as an example for today’s post). I filled out the answers to many questions, identified some people as friends or acquaintances, have used some of their plug-ins/3rd party apps. and participated in a few polls. Facebook has this (my) data and is in complete control of it and owns it right now – my preferences, opinions, friends, and even some of my buying habits. I also use Amazon and eBay – they too have my data and they know which books and items I’ve bought or bid on, they even built a profile of items I’ve looked for for future ‘recommendations’ (OR what I call, ‘invisible advertising’). The same for Netflix and iTunes. Now, think about all of this for a minute. Collectively, these services by virtue of the fact I have used their websites know more about my own real interests, likes and dislikes and specifically what I’d prefer to watch (Netflix), read (Amazon), who I talk to (Facebook), what I listen to (iTunes) and buy (Amazon & eBay ) better than anyone else other than myself. What if this cumulative profile of me was something I could use and take with me and ‘offer’ to a prospective website retailer that might like to ‘sell’ me something because that ‘something’ is very likely something I’d want to buy from them? Would my profile and data be worth something to this retailer? There is something of value I can offer them and in return I can get something of value to me, from them (i.e. a discount or other services). Could I use my profile then to negotiate a better deal for myself for that item if I purchased that item at their website? Conversely, why not let several web retailers offer me big discounts on certain items I am most likely to buy? And finally, when do advertisements no longer resemble advertisements? When they appear as ‘information’. The ‘ad’ part becomes invisible when I am properly targeted using my own data. I’ll no longer see an advertisement but rather some information I want to know about because I’m already interested in receiving that information (hence the term ‘invisible’ advertising). But, I want to control my own data. I want to be able to use this information about myself that OTHERS collect and use it for me, after all, I created it. I gave it up voluntarily to these web sites but I still want control of it – where it goes and to whom. If I had a simple XML file that resided on my own hard drive collecting this information, then I’d have my bargaining chip! And ultimately this will lead to less advertisements and more information being given to me. A better web experience all around. A win-win for me and the retailer. Thoughts?