A little while ago in too Big To Fail, I wondered when we’d notice how powerful global organisations like Twitter, Facebook and Google are (those last two account for around 70% of all mobile advertising in the world) and how they trade on our identities as their stock in trade. I wondered what might disrupt their dominance. Maybe what might even kill say, Facebook, or at least cause them to have to evolve, lest they die.
@TheBakeryLDN tweeted a sequence of these back in March this year, one each for G+, Twitter and this one that shows what Facebook shares with organisations that you login to through them. They use it in others ways, especially for advertising. It is fine, it is what we agree to when we click, “I Agree”, to the terms and conditions. We all think that through don’t we? It’s a deal we do consciously, diligently, isn’t it? Well, no, mostly we don’t. We just like being sociable and its free, so what the hell. Except it isn’t, is it… I hate not being in some kind of control. Total control is of course impossible, but that’s no reason to despair and give up altogether. I really object to the way the that power in the web has been centralised and is owned by so very few.
Let’s say we invent a new company called MyChoiceBank. It might be a not for profit. Better still we might just embed it as a standard component in the internet. What we’d do is store all our preferences there, like those above. Keep ownership but better still get some control back and re decentralise it, you know like the internet is supposed to be. We’ve let that big, open, standards based thing we call the web fall into a very few hands.
Let’s take a use case for MyChoiceBank. This is a bit like Paypal in some ways, you can store money there, have an account and conduct financial transactions through it. It would need regulating, likely at a national level unlike Paypal. Unlike Paypal, MyChoiceBank is first and foremost an open, interoperable standard.
Now let’s look at one of the earliest social media platforms for a second to see how MyChoiceBank might work. Email.
What?! Email a social media platform? But we hate email, don’t we? Social Media will replace it! Well it is rather over used in corporations, when we should just talk to each other, and the volume of spam in our personal email is very irritating. But as a tool for quickly defining an audience (a To: list), a topic (a Subject:) and getting a conversation going, adding or removing people as you go, its rather effective really. The conversations tend to be closed and other social media platforms are better at the open stuff, but email has some good features.
The best things about email is that it is open, anyone can set it up, it is interoperable, one email conversation can be received and interacted with by people on any implementation, and it is standard.
Now of course I bloody hate email, it tyrannises my working life, but in my personal life I rather like it. Except that is for the spam and for the way my provider machine reads my email and sends me adverts, so it can be “free”.
Let’s say I set up a new email company called ChoiceMail.
It can be free if I am happy to get adverts and spam. If I make that choice then it is no different to any other provider.
Or I can pay £1 per month for it if I want to be in control.
How to I exert control? Easy, I set a price for inbound email. I manage the money through my MyChoiceBank account (not my ChoiceMail account, I pay them £1, though I could of course pay for that through my MyChoiceBank account, I might even make some money, especially from my MyChoiceTube work).
Here it gets weird:
That price for inbound email is 0p (yes, zero) for people I decide I trust. That can be anyone I identify, but to keep it simple it might be anyone in my ChoiceMail contacts list, my Facebook friends, Linked in contacts, Twitter followers. If we’ve lost touch, that means you can connect on Facebook first and once we are friends you can email me for free.
For everyone else the charge might be £0.001p (yes, one thousandth of a penny). I might increase that if it does not have the desired affect. I might make £1m just for a a laugh!
That thousandth of a penny is a killer to a spammer who sends billions of emails.
Simple, I get my privacy back, I get rid of spam and I get personal email that is no longer a tyranny but a well functioning utility.
I can imagine a ChoiceTube (for my stop motion Lego movies), ChoiceBook (for interacting with friends without adverts), a ProffChoice for professional connections where I pay from my MyChoiceBank account to highlight my CV to recruiters when I want to move, a Banter for streaming but without adverts and so on. But I’d also like all those to be open, interoperable and standards based too.
Anyone fancy disrupting things a little so we can be in control and re decentralise the web?