Blurred Lines 2: The Bitcoin Promise

Whereas Facebook fails to nail Personal Data, help might come from unexpected sources like Bitcoin. In this second article on the blurred lines I would like to zoom in on the promise it holds.

The Facebook Premise

In the previous article I wrote why I think researchers are right when the predict the fall of the mighty social giant. It’s growth has been in interpersonal, social contact. Now it is trying to capitalise on it and your timeline is being flooded with corporate accounts. The premise is that you go to Facebook to interact with your friends, and not to do business. Meanwhile the fine line between your personal life and your professional life is blurring. You start adding colleagues to your Facebook friends. Then you start posting work related stuff, mixed with personal photo’s and you start to loose focus. Your collegues might be interested in your professional posting, but couldn’t care less about your childrens farts and hiccups. To your friends it works the other way around. They’re interested to see your cooking experiments, but really don’t care if half your timelime is covered with tech newsarticles. You loose focus. You loose your audience.

The Enterprise Social Network dilemma

While working as a project manager I did several major implementations of corporate social networks, some Microsoft Sharepoint based, some IBM (Lotus) Connections based, two of which have featured prominently on the LotusSphere editions of 2009 and 2012. With these corporate, or Enterprise Social Networks companies have tried to get on the social network train and tried to leverage the wisdom of the crowd within their companies. ESN wants you to be creative to get commitment and ideas. The biggest pitfall however is to think you will start blogging for a specifically limited audience. If I have a contribution that matters, I don’t just want my colleagues to know, I want my peers to know outside my company. And I want other companies to know I’m a thoughleader in this field so I can get better joboffers. The company doesn’t own my expertise.(they usually make that abundantly clear too with having their employees put up disclaimers on personal blogs that the ideas represent their own and not the companies’). Here we see the blurred line between the personal, public and professional knowledge domain because I start making choices about where to post my thoughts. I preferably do it once and not seperately on my blog and on the corporate intranet or social network.

The cloud challenge.

But what I do want is that everything is accessible. Everything needs to be cloudbased but it needs to be able to cross borders between the personal, public and professional. Especially the last one still tends to be a strict walled garden with DLP tools in place to make sure none of the information finds its way to the outside. But can they keep in what is actually my intellectual property? Sometimes it is evenly hard to share information with a business partner, even if you’re working on the same project because someone decided to have all USB access denied.

Data and knowledge get confined in close quarters and innovation and growth are hampered because of this inability for information to cross domains because at the very bottom we do not have a way to establish ownership of the data. Who has the intellectual property to the idea? Can I take my thoughts with me after I leave the company?

Ever since Napster DRM has been a nightmare and our content, our thoughts, or intellectual efforts are copied freely over the internet, most of the time people don’t bother to give quotes, let alone notifications. In the public cloud your intellectual property is loosing value very quickly because there is no way of establishing ownership. The same goes for corporate intellectual property as that still is the core asset of your company. Wikileaking or corporate espionage is taking the intellectual property away because the information in itself contains no ownership. That’s why it is walled so strictly.

The Bitcoin Promise

Over the past months the Bitcoin currency has been hyped, and usually damned, on a regular basis. In mainstream media it’s usually the criticasters or someone from the financial sector that predict the currencies’ doom. Which pretty much is imminent if you leave out the disruptive technology; the Block Chain Protocol. Bitcoin, or any other cryptocurrency is much more than just the coin. Arguable the Bitcoin is mankinds worst invention ever from a ‘green perspective’ as it uses immense computing capacity to mine nowadays but the technique underneath shows one of the first true answers to the Napster 1990’s issue of Digital Rights Management. It essentially is a transaction protocol containing transferable and traceable ownership to digital information. This is revolutionary. With it comes hope of a new generation of technology that can keep your intellectual property safe, no matter if it is spread freely over the internet, or passes over from the professional to the private domain. With it comes a new generation of ecommerce technology in which ownership is transferred without filling in every unnecessary personal detail. With it comes a challenge to every programmer and API designer how digital (intellectual) ownership kan be ported from one site to the other and from one webshop to anothers home adress.

Blurred Lines: Facebook going down

Facebook’s numbers have been on the up for years, reaching billions out there. Back in 2006 we were there with a number of early adopters. Then came the teens and over the past few years the parents and grandparents. But in December 2013 a research stated that teens are massively bailing out of Facebook in favor of Snapchat. Anthropologist Daniel Miller concludes:

“You just can’t be young and free if you know your parents can access your every indiscretion,” and “Young people care about style and status in relation to their peers, and Facebook is simply not cool anymore.”

Wired also covered this research, but stated that Facebook shouldn’t worry too much, because “But all that really matters to the service is what happens after teens go off to college and enter “the real world.” How will they stay in touch with old friends and connect with new friends as they enter the crucial 18-to-25-year-old demographic in which lifestyle and purchasing habits are formed?

That certainly put the stockmarket back to sleep. Meanwhile another group is leaving Facebook: The early adopters are speeding up Google+ growth. At this point in time Google+ surely has the advantage over Facebook with a slick design, cool feats and less annoying advertisements.

Facebook will lose 80% of its users by 2017

Facebook has been pushing the pedal to the metal when it comes to growth. It’s kept on accelerating but its engine is faltering now. This week Princeton researchers stated that Facebook will lose 80% of its users by 2017.

“Ideas, like diseases, have been shown to spread infectiously between people before eventually dying out, and have been successfully described with epidemiological models,” write authors John Cannarella and Joshua A. Spechler in an article recently posted to the preprint databasearXiv. The basic premise is simple: epidemiological models, the researchers argue, can be used to explain user adoption and abandonment of online social networks, “where adoption is analogous to infection and abandonment is analogous to recovery.”


Faltering Business Model

This in itself shouldn’t worry Zuckerberg and shareholders immediately. It is a prediction model, but things are starting to add up. Teens are leaving. Early adopters are leaving. The engine is faltering as Facebook is struggling with its business model. Users have been annoyed with the constant changes in their Timeline as Facebook is tweaking it’s engine to censor most of your data.

Earlier this year, science blogger Derek Muller clearly pointed out some of the major shortcomings of Facebook on a video on YouTube.

 “The problem with Facebook is that it’s keeping things from you,” says Muller. “With so many posts being shared throughout the day on Facebook, that clearly some filtering is required. The problem is Facebook is using its filtering power in order to make money.”

Rethinking personal Data


The true reason why Facebook’s engine is faltering is not teens leaving for something cooler, or early adopters leaving for slicker tech. The true reason is that Facebook has failed to nail personal data. Facebook used to be social interaction between people. Now it’s flooded with corporate accounts trying to win your attention. Slowly we are starting to spread our own professional lives. Friends are switching off at your corporate views, and your colleagues are switching off at your private photo’s. Either way, you’re not focussed anymore and you start loosing your audience.

It’s not just Facebook that’can’t deal with the blurred lines of personal and professional data, the same can be said for Amazon, IBM and Microsoft. They dwell in the corporate world, but whereas Facebook from a personal data point of view gets stuck with professional data, cloudproviders run into the opposite trap.. More and more our lives become connected and online. Not only our personal lives, but our professional lives as well. They are not seperate lives anymore and Facebook can’t deal with those blurred lines. We have to rethink personal data. While writing the blog a tweet by Rod Beckstrom came up from the World Economic Forum.

The Magic Quadrant of Social Software: The PPP Protocol

Back in 2009 I wrote an article on the blurred lines between professional and personal data, called the Magic Quadrant of Social Software. Here’s a short extract;

“The current trends on aggregation, the creation of lifestreams is convergence; pulling the content of various media into one single lifestream distributed to all our contact. Regarding the three domains however, we want – no, NEED –divergence; one single point of entry and the option to distribute it to different audiences, across the boundaries set by these domains. One of the functional prerequisites is the ability to organically group contacts (there are more 😉) regardless of the domain they are confined to.

This is, what in my opinion, will make it impossible for each of the platforms mentioned in the Gartner graph to truly claim the Magic Quadrant. Each of these solutions focus on one particular domain; social / personal or professional. The Magic Quadrant platform needs support all three domains in one coherent mashup of these multiple online identities we have fostered with ample mechanisms to guard our privacy, with the appropriate tools to include and exclude people to see certain types of information. It needs to be able to discern who is allowed to see which part of a certain domain”

In this regard, Google+ is ahead of its time (well, actually 4 years late on picking up my pointers) with its circles it comes close to the needed divergence and cross-domain distribution. It doesn’t totally digg the space yet, so Google+ will not be the final destination of the net, but I would advise Amazon, IBM and the likes to rethink their cloud solutions. How are we going to deal with the blurred lines between personal, public and professional data?


Read on: Blurred lines part 2: The Bitcoin Promise

Read on: Techcrunch: Facebook Hilariously debunks Princeton Study

MindBlizzard Reboot

Back in 2006 I started blogging in English, primarily about Virtual Worlds. Gradually I picked up on new tech developments and social networking. I kept up regular blogging into 2009 until our lives changed and I just couldn’t be bothered anymore. For the past four years I’ve done an occasional blog, contributing to various sites once in a while and did a restart on a specific topic in Dutch.

The topic of security still is of great importance. I believe my views on this are still accurate and it will be one of the major challenges of this decade, but I do not want to limit myself to just this one topic, allthough much more could have been said about Anonymous, the NSA taps and so forth.

But there are other developments that fail to live up to their promise, some well established technologies that face extinction and some exciting new stuff that could change the face of the earth that need attention too. So, here it is. The MindBlizzard Reboot. Back in English so y’all can keep up.