miércoles, 25 de febrero de 2015

An open model for reputation services

It´s constantly repeated that we live in a world of information. We create2.5 quintillion bytes of data, so much that 90% of the data in the world todayhas been created in the last two years. I have not found any estimation of which percentage of this daily production of information is based on personal data. Nevertheless, as sharing personal data is the key for the improvement of the user experience in the most popular Internet services, we can be pretty sure that it is a great percentage.

We are so aware that our user experience of Internet services depend on sharing our personal data that the majority of us has accepted the deal. Even after we have known the massive surveillance based on the data provided by Internet services, 80% of Europeans still feel comfortable sharing its personaldata in exchange for services. Nevertheless, perhaps  we are not fully aware of the subtle change of the  role of personal data in the last generation of Internet services. In Google, Facebook and Amazon, we are asked for our personal data to improve our user experience. In Uber, Airbnb and many other shared economy services, the personal data we provided are evaluated by others and is the key for having a user experience or not having it at all. Welcome to the reputation economy.

This change of the role of data in relation with Internet services has other implications. In the first generation of services, there is no benefit in sharing the personal data of their users with other providers. Their economic benefit is mainly based in a secondary explotation of the data, as selling advertisement services, and therefore the providers do not have any incentive in sharing the personal data of the users. In the new generation of services, the revenues come from the main activity that is enabling the shared usage of a resource. The more information they can provide  to those who share the resource about each other, the better the service. Thus, the economic benefit of sharing information among shared economy services providers about their users is crystal clear.

Having a common pool of personal data accesible to different providers could have benefits also for their final users. In the reputation economy our value as customer or partner depends on our past actions. Connecting all these actions will allow us to avoid the need to build up a reputation from the scratch each time we enter in a new shared economy service provider. As a consumers, there is other important aditional benefit. Having an open connection of the reputation in different shared economy services will act as a deterrent for the creation of a big monopoly for providing these services. There will be no incentive for a creation of an Amazon for shared economy services.

However, it is curious that those who are in the best position to act as reputation providers are the first generation of Internet services. This is an aditional reason to work in favour of regulating these big digital platforms if we do not want to extend its huge control of the economy. The alternative will be enabling a "Google Compare" for humans, and that would be a new step for the creation of a private "big brother". The only solution I see is forcing through regulations a cooperative and open model for the reputation service, based on sharing information among the different shared economy services providers without a central repository.

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