Data is a head trip
by Doc Searls Monday, May 29, 2017

A thousand years ago, Dave Winer said market share is a head trip

I like head trip. It means "the state of being zoned out" or "an act performed primarily for self-gratification." It's pure vernacular from another time, but what the hell.

Main thing is, it applies to data. Here's how data works as a head trip for big companies. They actually think:

  1. Because data is valuable —
  2. More is better, so Big Data is more valuable than little data. Also a competitive advantage. A way to keep up with the BigCo Joneses.
  3. To obtain Big Data that's useful in the marketplace, companies need to hoover up personal data about, and from, every actual or potential customer they can, everywhere and every way they can.
  4. They should use this hoovered data to fill their data lakes and then refine data from those lakes to into marketing goop to throw at "the right person" in "the right place" at "the right time," aimed by #martech and #adtech machinery.
  5. Data refining should include ML (machine learning) and AI (artificial intelligence) because, well, they're what's cool right now.

And here is the default head tripping among many #customertech developers:

  1. All this hoovered personal data is rightfully ours alone. Taking it without our permission is a privacy violation.
  2. Europe agrees, and says so with the General Data Protection regulation (GDPR), which will start punishing companies for hoovering personal data without personal permission, starting in May 2018.
  3. In fact we can do more with our personal data than any company can, especially when all they're trying to do is sell us stuff and most of the time we aren't buying a damn thing.
  4. So we need ways to keep and control our personal data, and to use our own ML and AI when we do put it to use.
  5. Since companies have an appetite for personal data, and that data has value to them, we should get in on that market, somehow. Or create a new one that isn't dysfunctional.

All of which is fine, actually except for the near-exclusive focus on data.

What tripping on data misses is the need for agency, which is why I wrote Customertech Will Turn the Online Marketplace Into a Marvel-Like Universe in Which All of Us are Enhanced, after I wrote the lists above, which I didn't want to lose and have now posted here.