User behavior data open to misuse without privacy and identification standards

The uncharted territory of user behavior data based on what users do in such web walled gardens as Facebook was the focus of a "tweet jam" last week organized by The Open Group.

Some of the many notable participants in the tweet jam around the hash tag #ogChat on July 11 worried about the prospect of misuse of the user identity and behavior data, but were more mixed about what to do about it. I was the moderator of the tweet jam. [Disclosure: The Open Group is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

With hundreds of tweets flying at break-neck pace, yesterday's #ogChat saw a very spirited discussion on the Internet's movement toward a walled garden model. In case you missed the conversation, you're now in luck! Here's a re-cap of yesterday's #ogChat:

The full list of participants included:

Here is a high-level a snapshot of yesterday's #ogChat:

Shift from open Internet

Q1 In the context of #WWW, why has there been a shift from the open Internet to portals, apps and walled environs? #ogChat

Participants generally agreed that the impetus behind the walled garden trend was led by two factors: companies and developers wanting more control, and a desire by users to feel "safer."

  • @charleneli: Q1 Peeps & developers like order, structure, certainty. Control can provide that. But too much and they leave. #ogChat.
  • @Technodad: User info & contributions are raw material of walled sites-"If you're not paying for the service, the product being sold is you". #ogChat
  • @AlanWebber #ogChat Q1 - People feel safer inside the "Walls" but don't realize what they are losing

Privacy/control

Q2 How has this trend affected privacy/control? Do users have enough control over their IDs/content within #walledgarden networks? #ogChat


This was a hot topic as participants debated the tradeoffs between great content and privacy controls. Questions of where data was used and leaked to also emerged, as walled gardens are known to have backdoors.

  • @AlanWebber: But do people understand what they are giving up inside the walls? #ogChat
  • @TheTonyBradley: Q2 -- Yes and no. Users have more control than they're aware of, but for many its too complex and cumbersome to manage properly.#ogchat
    • @jim_hietala: #ogChatQ2 privacy and control trade offs need to be made more obvious, visible

 

  • @JohnFontana: Q2 Notion is wall and gate is at the front of garden where users enter. It's the back that is open and leaking their data #ogchat
  • @subreyes94: #ogchat .@DanaGardner More walls coming down through integration. FB and Twitter are becoming de facto login credentials for other sites


Social and mobile


Q3 What has been the role of social and #mobile in developing #walledgardens? Have they accelerated this trend? #ogChat


Everyone agreed that social and mobile catalyzed the formation of walled garden networks. Many also gave a nod to location as a nascent driver.

  • @jaycross: Q3 Mobile adds your location to potential violations of privacy. It's like being under surveillance. Not very far along yet. #ogChat
  • @charleneli: Q3: Mobile apps make it easier to access, reinforcing behavior. But also enables new connections a la Zynga that can escape #ogChat
  • @subreyes94: #ogChatQ3 They have accelerated the always-inside the club. The walls have risen to keep info inside not keep people out.

      • @Technodad: @subreyes94 Humans are social, want to belong to community & be in touch with others "in the group". Will pay admission fee of info. #ogChat

Current web

Q4 Can people use the internet today without joining a walled garden network? What does this say about the current web? #ogChat


There were a lot of parallels drawn between real and virtual worlds. It was interesting to see that walled gardens provided a sense of exclusivity that human seek out by nature. It was also interesting to see a generational gap emerge as many participants cited their parents as not being a part of a walled garden network.

  • @TheTonyBradley: Q4 -- You can, the question is "would you want to?" You can still shop Amazon or get directions from Mapquest. #ogchat
  • @zdFYRashid: Q4 people can use the internet without joining a walled garden, but they don't want to play where no one is. #ogchat
  • @JohnFontana: Q4 I believe we are headed to a time when people will buy back their anonymity. That is the next social biz. #ogchat

Owning information

Q5 Is there any way to reconcile the ideals of the early web with the need for companies to own information about users? #ogChat


While walled gardens have started to emerge, the consumerization of the Internet and social media has really driven user participation and empowered users to create content within these walled gardens.

  • @JohnFontana: Q5 - It is going to take identity, personal data lockers, etc. to reconcile the two. Wall-garden greed heads can't police themselves#ogchat
  • @charleneli:Q5: Early Web optimism was less about being open more about participation. B4 you needed to know HTML. Now it's fill in a box. #ogChat
  • @Dana_Gardner: Q5 Early web was more a one-way street, info to a user. Now it's a mix-master of social goo. No one knows what the goo is, tho. #ogChat
  • @AlanWebber: Q5, Once there are too many walls, people will begin to look on to the next (virtual) world. Happening already #ogChat

Next iteration

Q6 What #Web2.0 lessons learned should be implemented into the next iteration of the web? How to fix this? #ogChat


Identity was the most common topic with the sixth and final question. Single sign-on, personal identities on mobile phones/passports and privacy seemed to be the biggest issues facing the next iteration of the web.

  • @Technodad: Q6 Common identity is a key - need portable, mutually-recognized IDs that can be used for access control of shared info. #ogChat
  • @JohnFontana: Q6 Users want to be digital. Give them ways to do that safely and privately if so desired. #ogChat
    • @TheTonyBradley: Q6 -- Single ID has pros and cons. Convenient to login everywhere with FB credentials, but also a security Achilles heel.#ogchat


Thank you to all the participants who made this such a great discussion!

Incidentally, the model of a tweet jam or tweet up on IT subjects of interest is a great way to gather insights and make a social splash too. This #ogChat was a top tracking subject under Twitter during and after the online event. I'd be happy to do more of these as a moderator or participant on a subject near and dear to you and your community.

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About the Author
Dana Gardner is president and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, an enterprise IT analysis, market research, and consulting firm. Ga...
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