The Long Tail and Personal Data

Personal Data

Personal data is data created by and about people. There are three different types of data volunteered data which is people adding their information on their own like social media, observed data which is like a location from a cell phone, and inferred data which mixture of observed and volunteered like a credit score. The current personal data ecosystem is inefficient and fragmented because technologies and laws fall short of providing the legal and technical infrastructure to support an efficient personal data ecosystem. Contributors to the personal data ecosystem are private sectors, public sectors (the government), and individuals (generated 70% of digital data, created in 2010, the year identity theft went up 12%).

To help solve the broken ecosystem is to align stakeholders in support of each other and to instill a vision of the ecosystem for the person’s data to be equivalent to their money in an account where it is managed, controlled, exchanged, and accounted. “Building the legal, cultural, technological and economic infrastructure to enable the development of a balanced personal data ecosystem is vitally important to improving the state of the world.” End user-centricity is the end goal of aligning stakeholders and the vision for the ecosystem. It is a “holistic approach that recognizes that end users are vital and independent stakeholders in the co-creation and value exchange of services and experiences.” It also represents a transformational opportunity seeking to integrate types of personal data through transparency, trust, control, and value.

There are five areas of collective action: innovate around user-centricity and trust, define global principles for using and sharing personal data, strengthen the dialog between regulators and the private sector, focus on interoperability and open standards, and continually share knowledge.

Some of the varieties of data are digital identity, relationships, communications data and logs, financial data, health data, and more. The uncertainties of data are privacy, global governance, personal data ownership, transparency, and value distribution. Also uncertainties “exist around the evolution of personal data exchanges and the degree of political empowerment they could create.”

Enablers to help build a balanced ecosystem are easy to understand user-centric approach to design systems focusing on  transparency, control, trust, and value; mechanisms for gaining trust in digital transactions; easier to operate data silos; and an expanded role for government. The solutions for types of interoperability for identity are technical inoperability, the ability for different technologies to communicate data on adopted interface standards; semantic interoperability, the ability for all end points to communicate data and the message is accurate; and legal inoperability, common business policies and processes related to data between systems. There are two problems for the trust framework, having to establish a username and password which usually additionally requires personal information and not knowing if the person on the internet is who they say they are.

The Long Tail

Retailers, like Walmart, video stores, and game stores carry fewer inventories than a company that strictly sells online, like Rhapsody and Netflix. The CEO, Robbie Vann-Adibé, of Ecast asks the question of how many of the 10,000 songs will be rented or sold from their media store monthly and the answer is 99% because there is a market for all of the songs. With the amount of access we have to media online, there is no longer a scarcity but abundance and popularity does not determine profitability. Walmart is a giant retailer that carries music and if they do not make enough money from selling the music, they will lose all of the music. On the other hand, music online can just discard certain albums or songs without it being all or nothing. The term the Long Tail is the more companies add music there will always be an audience and any type of song can be found. A venture capitalist, Kevin Law, said “The biggest money is in the smallest sales.” To me this quote is similar to the cliché phrase; big things come in small packages. The item or sale might be small but it adds up to a larger sale or bigger meaning.

The power of the Long Tail has three lessons: make everything available, cut the price in half and then lower it, and help me find it. The lesson of making everything available is best to find niches. It also reaches more people and will not be limited based on geography. The price cutting lesson focuses on the right price for songs, for example. Songs are sold wholesale at around 65 cents apiece and Apple set the standard of 99 cents per song. With the savings of buying songs online, the price should be cheaper because it does not take as much to create it. The help me find it lesson is that even though popularity does not determine profitability, hits are still important.

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