Starting a business community

As you’d expect, Teligent gives a very quick & precise heads-up on adding community to a business:
6 Things For The Community Strategist To Think About

You’d think that folk starting social businesses would get past the technology & think about what their users expect – should a start-up be fortunate enough to have any users… Last year Rapleaf upset some folk when early adopters felt their privacy had been violated. Rapleaf reacted quickly, and a crisis was avoided.
This year, socialminder managed to stir up the privacy storm.

Two things to note.
1 The storm raged faster & more intensely this time around, as Twitter spread the ‘news’.
2 Early adopters have different expectations from later mass users… they’re probably *more* sensitive to privacy abuse. (I’ve no science to back this up, just years of watching 😉

socialminder (& indeed rapleaf) aren’t doing anything that Plaxo et al get up to – but the mass user perhaps doesn’t manage their network reputation as sensitively as tech-savvy early adopter types. That’s a challenge for any savvy startup in this area – early adopters are (probably) a vital part of your launch strategy. Their feedback can iron out many bugs & unintended design consequences.

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Governments, privacy & data

No, I don’t particularly trust government with my data – but then I fully expect all organisations to at some time abuse the trust I’ve placed in them.

There’s two types of problem here – errors (a polite way of saying ‘incompetence’, and ‘breaches of trust’ where data given in good faith is then used for a different purpose.  In so many ways the web makes these errors & breaches of trust transparent – I’m sure these things went on in the past, but folk just didn’t know about them.

The only answer is to take responsibility for your own privacy.

The long term solution would be to have an efficient personal recourse & compensation  system. At present there is no commonly agreed straightforward way to alert a company to loss or misuse of your data – and no sense of an appropriate value for compansation.

A friend who had £500+ stoln through a credit card fraud “fixed” the problem with one phone call to Lloyds TSB (well done them for dealing with it so quickly). But he’ll be without £500 for 10 days or so: what’s that worth?  And for all the background fraud protection that does go on in business, nobody seems to be asking why the data was in the wild in the first place.  In the particular case of financial data, chip & pin doesn’t seem to be the answer: fraud rose after its introduction.  If we customers can help by changing our behaviour, then being guided on what behaviour to change would be a good start.

The Government’s reward for finding lost families data is less than the commercial rate for name & address data; appended family & financial data would cost several times more than the reward offer for a single use of the data.

One can only wish the Data Privacy Consultation well; i’ll look into it to see if I can contribute, constructively. The folk I’ve met from the Information Commissioner’s office have always been just the kind of folk you’d want in charge of your data. I hope they can spread some of their good karma & thinking to other government departments & businesses.

A stand on internet privacy from Google

“Privacy laws have not kept up with the reality of the internet and
technology, where we have vast amounts of information and every time a
credit card is used online, the data on it can move across six or seven
countries in a matter of minutes,” Mr Fleischer told the Financial
ahead of his speech.

This is good.

It may be a partially-formed thought at the moment, but without Google’s participation, any initiative will struggle to become a standard. With Google’s involvement, online practice and laws have a chance of defending our privacy – but in ways that are practical for individuals and lawyers, and commercially sound for online businesses.

So for example A Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web and has a lot more chance of becoming accepted if it’s adopted by Google – and Skype. It’ll be interesting to see how the two approaches compare.

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Customer 2.0 : I own my privacy

Have you seen rapleaf ?
or upscoop
oh and there’s quechup as well – which has some of plaxo’s worst habits (which plaxo quickly shed),

It’s Spam 2.0 – the start of the social spam revolution.

I’ve seen conversations on 2 separate professional networks that are apalled by them & the loss of privacy that’s implicit – for example, I now know what’s on one of my client’s Amazon Wish Lists. Which I guess is OK if you actually know somebody… but not OK if you’ve scraped an email address & set out to learn anything you can about a person for who-knows-what purpose.

The only defence is to use separate public & personal email addresses – and even that would be defeated by viral tools in these services’ signup processes.

Oh, and Facebook just announced that it’s opening public profiles to search engines – so expect an outrage in 5-6 weeks time. And then folk will adjust and go back to their lives, on & offline.

But the cumulative effect will be for the ‘signal to noise’ ratio to drop – the proportion of genuine messages will reduce, amongst an increase of social spam.

All these rape our privacy.

Expect to see more folk using closed communities (like Phuser ), and the ‘private’ options on Facebook et al. Bit by bit we’ll learn to take control of our own privacy, and take responsibility for our privacy.

That’s the service that Rapleaf offer: to protect & control your privacy. I’m in two minds as to whether they’ll profit from exposing the problem (which they didn’t create…) Or if they’ll be a victim of their own success at exposing a genuine social problem.

miskeying Google uk…

By accident, I added an ‘oo’ to get to , then for fun missed off the g, and found myself – not on – but on a Sky TV signup page

Full marks to the fella at Sky who thought of that one, and got around to putting it in place.
And to the web management team, who saw the point in doing so.


and in a more serious vein,  Blackle serves up Google in Black – which apparently saves hills of power normally needed to deliver Google in white.

It’s harder to read white text on black, but not that hard!  Since the idea of Google would be that you scan the results & move on, it’s not as intense as reading whole sentences – where comprehension would suffer.

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