I Want My Personal Data Locker!

(co-written with David Boardman http://www.twitter.com/dbboardman)

David Boardman

The personal data locker.

Do you remember getting your first locker? I do. It was 7th grade the first year of middle school. The big leap from elementary school into the land of giants – 7th, 8th, and 9th graders.

On the first day of school we all anxiously awaited as our home room teacher handed out assignments. We all leapt from our chairs with locks in hand and went out to find the space that we would personalize and call home for our books, snacks, gadgets – and more. In a world where our parents – and school authorities – had visibility into and control of all of our storage spaces (well ok, not all – there was that tree fort in the woods) – this was the one place we could keep things private and retrieve them when we wanted. I remember walking the halls looking at all of the big kids lockers and how quickly they made them their own. Some had pictures of Cal Ripken, summer trips with friends, and u2 ticket stubs. Too cool.

Today there is a lot of talk about “personal data lockers,” as described in David Siegel’s book Pull. Lockers that will hold our music, our photos, our medical records, a record of our purchases, places we have been, people we know, and more. Personal ontology will describe all of the items in the locker so that applications will know how to access, manage, and act on the items in the locker.

Too cool. I am as anxious now as I was as a seventh grader to get this new locker, so I can start loading it and personalizing it. I can’t wait to load the entries for all of my purchased videos and audio, store all of my identities and preferences, my digital tickets – and ticket stubs. I want my TV, camera, iPhone apps, car navigation system, and web sites I use – to access my locker.

I want to configure who gets a key to my locker and what items they get to access or act on under specific contexts. For example, I want Hertz and Marriott to get access to my identity, location, and preferences when I am planning a trip, but not when I am going to the park with my kids. I want my Facebook friends to be able to get my music preferences so they can invite me to concerts I may be interested in. So much promise. So many questions.

Will I be able to do all of this? What will it mean for my life – better services, greater productivity, and cheaper goods? Who is going to give me the data locker – a bank, a mobile operator, Facebook, a new start-up? Will I have one locker for everything or a series of linked lockers containing different data for different uses? Will I be able to buy insurance on my locker? Will I be able to describe what happens to my locker in my will?

I am more excited to get the key to my new locker than I was as a 7th grader. Hurry up tech world. I want my personal data locker!

Olly Downs:

The personal data locker David described above requires a rich understanding of the relationships between different themes and concepts that can in part be learned from the actions that people take.

However, equally important is the learning derived from how things are described and talked about relative to one another (which really conveys what something means). With the use of hierarchy-free ontologies, Atigeo’s xPatterns enables systems, in real time, to determine semantic relationships between concepts – simply from reading and reviewing large bodies of unstructured text information about the domain.

In Atigeo’s version of the Personal Data Locker, the contents are expressed in unstructured form as lists of lists of concepts in combination with semantically-expressed spatial, temporal, and behavioral context. When this data is applied to xPatterns indexes of content semantically appropriate actions, items, and offers can be presented to the user at a meaningful time by the content provider.

The technology allows a unique approach to privacy; to assess a particular piece of content, the attributes within the personal data locker do not need to be shared with the content provider. The content description and any semantic metadata are simply indexed with xPatterns and under the permission and control of the owner of the data locker, Only a “score” of the content affinity to the data locker owner is presented to enabled content providers.

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