Volunteered Personal Information
One of the things that falls out our analysis of personal data ecosystems is the power of ‘volunteered personal information’ (VPI). This is information that only the individual knows or can see because of his or her unique vantage point, and which (therefore) only that individual can share.
This creates many knock-on questions.
One of them is ‘how valuable/important is this information?’. Answer: unthinkably valuable, because potentially this volunteered information tells us (i.e. suppliers, governments, public services, other individuals) who somebody is, what they want and need, and when they need it. The ‘holy grail’ of information about the nature, shape, location and timing of demand, in other words. The new report from Ctrl-Shift on this subject estimates that within ten years, the market value of VPI ‘feeds’ from individuals to organisations will be worth £20bn in the UK alone.
Other questions follow, such as:
- ‘what are the mechanisms by which individuals are going to capture, gather, store and share this information?’
- ‘under what conditions will they do so? e.g. what are the incentives encouraging people to participate and what are the obstacles discouraging them?’
- ‘what are the rules surrounding such information sharing? This includes technical standards, enabling information to flow easily, but also terms and conditions as to who has access to this VPI, for what purposes, under what terms?’
These are all huge questions, which many people are working on right now (see, Project VRM, Mydex and the Kantara Initiative for example). I’ve blogged about some of the issues surrounding VPI here.