It’s Just a Question of Time…Data Mobility & Depeche Mode

August 24, 2009
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I’m having a hard-time writing this morning… I’m still moved by the sight of more than 10,000 40-somethings having a mass sing-a-longDepeche_Mode to Depeche Mode, who performed in Anaheim last night. I’m a woman, and we keep some things close to our hearts (read: don’t ask my age). But, I will say this: I attended my first Depeche Mode concert more than 20 years ago.

 

Things have changed for DM and their fans in the last two decades. The new music is fine, but dull. Dave Gahan has crow’s feet. The men in the audience have traded-in leather jackets for pot-bellies.

 

And, swaying lighters were all but absent—enter the PDA. People holding PDAs high above their heads to light the arena during a tender ballad; using them to furiously Facebook, Tweet, and Flickr moment-by-moment updates. I mean, I knew before I entered the arena what the band would be wearing, because my washed-up 80’s friends had shared it all with me from the Hollywood Bowl the night before. In real-time. Instead of actually watching the show.

 

All of that data is collected somewhere. Social networking sites, like Facebook, are aggregating volumes of information about who we are, what we do and when we do it.

I’m having a hard-time writing this morning… I’m still moved by the sight of more than 10,000 40-somethings having a mass sing-a-longDepeche_Mode to Depeche Mode, who performed in Anaheim last night. I’m a woman, and we keep some things close to our hearts (read: don’t ask my age). But, I will say this: I attended my first Depeche Mode concert more than 20 years ago.

 

Things have changed for DM and their fans in the last two decades. The new music is fine, but dull. Dave Gahan has crow’s feet. The men in the audience have traded-in leather jackets for pot-bellies.

 

And, swaying lighters were all but absent—enter the PDA. People holding PDAs high above their heads to light the arena during a tender ballad; using them to furiously Facebook, Tweet, and Flickr moment-by-moment updates. I mean, I knew before I entered the arena what the band would be wearing, because my washed-up 80’s friends had shared it all with me from the Hollywood Bowl the night before. In real-time. Instead of actually watching the show.

 

All of that data is collected somewhere. Social networking sites, like Facebook, are aggregating volumes of information about who we are, what we do and when we do it. Within walled-garden networks, that data is held inaccessible to the outside web, much to the annoyance of open-web dependants like Google. But who owns that data? Facebook would argue that it does. Google would argue that you do. And, if you do own your data, is it not your right to take it with you?

 

The concept is called data mobility—think of it as an analog to mobile number portability. You create a wealth of relationships, connections, and profile information in one social media service, and you then choose to join another. Data mobility allows that information to travel with you, or rather, be accessible centrally so you can tap into it wherever, however, whenever you choose.

 

The concept raises difficult questions for companies who aggregate user information. How do you balance the need to manage user information to drive your business with the need to be a good steward for data policies which promote openness? If– in addition to driving improved ROIs for Advertisers and Publishers— an articulated benefit of targeted ad and content delivery is improved user experience, shouldn’t aggregators of relevant user and behavioral data consider sharing that information for the common good? Is there a common good?

 

Clearly, there should be a middle-road, where companies can both use the right technologies to understand and predict consumer interests internally in balance with a mandate to share make relevant information available externally.

 

I’m just not sure I want photographic evidence of me-plus-twenty-years still sobbing like a silly teenager over a few washed-up rockers in leather pants. To quote a poet wiser than me: “It’s better to burn-out than just fade away.” Buh-bye lighters. Hello PDAs. Those are words to live by.

 

Colleen Quinn

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