A View from the CLOUD – Has Communication Really Changed? (Part 2)

There was a wonderful show in the late 1960s and early 1970s called Laugh-In. As a young child at the time, it was my first memory of watching television with my mom and dad. I can’t remember if it was shown on the same night as the Muppet Show, but they both seem to go together in my memories. They were both quick and witty, and they made me laugh, even at the jokes only my mom and dad seemed to get.

Laugh-In featured many guests in addition to its hosts Dick Martin and Dan Rowan. One of those guests was Lily Tomlin who played Ernestine the Telephone Operator. She was famous for the line, “one ringy dingy.”

That line kept popping up in my mind as I prepared to write a follow-on blog post to A View from the CLOUD: Has Communication Really Changed (Part 1)  The Laugh-in video of Ernestine the Telephone Operator is worth a quick watch now, both for a good laugh and to frame the rest of this blog post. In addition to laying the foundation for a piece on communication, it quite surprisingly also raised issues of privacy and security… Lily calls it omnipotent (that’s potent with an omni in front). I’ll tackle those in a separate post… Continue Reading →

A View from the CLOUD: Has Communication Really Changed? (Part 1)

Every so often, it is useful not having a computer science degree. As a liberal arts undergraduate, with an MBA and JD, I am liberated to ask questions that may seem trite to the most seasoned veterans of technology. One of those questions is about email, and with Walgreens and McDonald’s email marketing lists being hacked recently and Angela Levin of the Daily Mail asking deeper questions about privacy and Google’s free email, now seems like a good time to think about email from a CLOUD point of view.

The “Hamburgling” of McDonald’s and Walgreen’s email lists speaks to security and where data is stored, while the article on Google’s free email points to far deeper issues about how we view and use the Internet. In the case of Walgreens and McDonald’s, the information for communicating with me is stored in their databases. In the case of Google, not only is my email address stored in their database but all of my emails are on their servers, too. None of this is unique to these specific companies. The problem is we have replicated our approach to information in the paper-based era with similar views of information in the Internet era. The virtual world is simply not the same as the physical world, and this recent incident with emails shows how CLOUD’s view of the Internet can completely change the approach that allowed these hackers to be successful.

The issue to be addressed here is not so much how the hackers were able to succeed in their theft but instead what CLOUD’s future model for the Internet can mean to our communications in general. At the general level, we have a 2 X 2 matrix by which we communicate. There are synchronous and asynchronous conversations, and there are one to one or one to many communications. Whether through physical means or electronic ones, the matrix is still relevant to describing the paths by which we connect and receive messages.The examples in this matrix are not meant to be exhaustive but illustrative.

For each of these communication “vectors,” we have a tag. We may have a phone number, a Skype name, an email address, our physical residence or mailing address, or a Twitter name. Interestingly, each of these tags has one thing in common. Us. No matter what the communication vector or path, the message still leads to us. So, really all someone needs to know about me to communicate with me is me. Call it the ultimate version of ME 1.0!

At this point, you may be asking what any of this has to do with the hacking of the marketing databases at Walgreens, McDonald’s and others. In today’s model for communicating on the Internet, everybody that wants to communicate with me has to store each and every one of my unique tags to do so.  Whether it is email or phone or Twitter, this means that each of my addresses or “tags” has to be stored in every database at every company that wants to send me a message, which leads to the outcomes that McDonald’s describes as a “Unauthorized Customer Data Access.”

What if the various mechanisms for communicating with me were in my control? What if all you needed to know about me to communicate with me was me. In a CLOUD-enabled world, local ownership and use of data extends to our communication vectors. In each case, phone number, Twitter handle, email address or physical address, these “tags” are associated with me and are in my control. As a result, I am able to decide how these tags are managed. Walgreens would never need to know nor store any of this information.

Let’s think through how this might work. Since Walgreens is the “pharmacy that America trusts,” I may have decided to enter into a relationship with them on multiple fronts. Let’s suppose I’ve placed an order for photos. Obviously, photos are physical items, and as a result, Walgreens will need to mail them to my physical address. If I have shared this “tag,” when they print out their mailing label for shipment, my physical address gets printed. No need for them to store it, because I’m managing this communication vector on my terms. Now let’s suppose that I’ve also entrusted Walgreens with my pharmaceutical needs. Depending on the urgency of these communications, I may have allowed Walgreens access to multiple points of access to me. They don’t need to know which ones, because I’m managing it. If there is a recall on a drug, I may choose to have such a message sent to me in three ways: text, phone call and email. Walgreens doesn’t need to worry about which one I have chosen, they just need to send out the urgent message, and, for audit purposes, know that I’ve received the message, no matter which channel I have chosen to receive it through.

A world of ME 1.0 not only changes privacy, security and data portability, but it can change communications, too.  When the Internet starts with us, communications are no longer pushed but pulled.  As a result, there are no longer databases scattered everywhere with my information in it, and no “unauthorized data access customer notices” to send.  Even if a hacker gets one of the tags to one of my communication vectors, it doesn’t matter.  I’m not in relationship with them, so even with my “tag,” they can’t push a communication to me, because I’m not pulling it.

Part 2 will explore this new concept of communication vectors in more detail, as well as unpack the issues raised by Angela Levin with those creepy ads we get when we are on mail.google.com.

A View from the CLOUD (Health 2.0 SF 2009): Conversations and Thoughts from Day One

San Francisco… 55 degrees… a vibrant morning for Health 2.0, and I’ve already had some interesting conversations about CLOUD before the program even starts.

On the way over from the hotel on the bus to the San Francisco Concourse and home of Health 2.0, I engaged in an interesting conversation with someone that has worked in health systems as a major contractor, Continue Reading →

WIRED | Is Online Privacy a Generational Issue?

  • October 1, 2009  |
  • 9:00 am  | Categories: Electronic Geek

    “It seems like every time I talk to people about privacy, there’s a feeling that younger users of online tools simply don’t care about the issue. Often, I am asked why privacy advocates like CDT push government and industry to protect privacy more robustly- when ‘no one cares’? In short, people seem to be asserting that digital natives like myself do not value privacy online. While this point is oft repeated, I think that this argument is flawed, and does not address the subtleties of privacy in the cloud, social networks, and other new online technologies. Simply put, these technologies are giving digital natives (really, all users) greater control over their information – and we use it.”

    CLOUD Take: CLOUD, Inc. agrees with Heather West, policy analyst at the Center for Democracy & Technology, and writer of this guest post at Geek Dad.  The time for greater control of our information has arrived, and the locus of that control should not be at the website but instead at the user, the individual.

    Continue Reading →

    A View from the CLOUD (Health 2.0 SF 2009): Health 2.0 Meet ME 1.0

    The Design Center concourse in San Francisco could not be a better venue for the upcoming Health 2.0 Conference.  For all of the debate that is raging about health care, reform, insurance companies and the rest, the issue at hand is really one of design.  The theme, User-Generated Healthcare, is itself a design issue.

    Places of the Soul, by Christopher Day, makes the point that architecture must begin based on where the designed structure is to be placed.  As he notes in the book, studies have shown that there is strong correlation between recovery time at the hospital and patient view, with every leaf being ‘worth its weight in gold.’  Design matters.  The Health 2.0 team has architected an excellent agenda that looks at the design issue of the healthcare system from the perspective of the patient.  I am excited to be attending and look forward to the possibility of CLOUD presenting its new vision and language during the Human Centered Design Contest.

    CLOUD believes that the Internet needs a new design, too, an architecture based on starting from a new place, the individual.  ME 1.0 looks forward to meeting Health 2.0 and engaging in a new blueprint for the future!