I’m going to start this post with a metaphorical story.
There was a land where the ground surface was mud. It wasn’t that big a deal and most day-to-day lives went on without much of a problem. There was an issue however, and that is, that shoes would get stuck onto the mud. Sometimes it is so sticky, it completely takes the shoe off the person. Clearly this was a problem and people came together far and wide to discuss this. Academics, government, corporations all discuss this at great length. Some propose different shoe materials, Some propose different ways of walking, many sold shoes that were guaranteed to be anti-sticking. The issue of shoes sticking onto the mud is a big issue and many papers and conferences were dedicated to it.
The problem is, no one asked the question – why is the surface all mud? How can we change the surface completely?
No one asked the question because the surface, and the mud, was given. There was no alternative to it. If you want to be on that land, you will have to deal with the mud.
The Internet is that land and the surface is all the existing platforms sitting on the Internet e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, GMail. We can’t get on the land (Internet) without being on a muddy surface (the existing platforms) so we have to live with it. The issue of shoes sticking onto mud is the issue of privacy on existing platforms. It is a problem because the surface is muddy, in other words, its a problem because the existing platforms are corporation-centric and the terms of engagement favour the corporation. Trying to resolve privacy issues on the existing platforms is basically asking the question of how to stop shoes from sticking onto the mud.
How about if we created a surface that is made from concrete? Then the problem of how to get the shoes to stop sticking onto mud is not just irrelevant, it doesn’t exist.
This is how I describe the HAT personal data platform which you can see in the HAT story prezi here.
So stop thinking about the problem of shoes sticking. Just change the surface.