Silicon Valley is blessed with brilliance. Which means we are blessed with opinions that grow exponentially with each new technology and trend.
Right now, the opinions about what constitutes data portability are swirling around in the air here. Which I applaud. But I'm having trouble with the fact that the cloud doesn't include anyone representing the people beyond the Valley.
Last evening, I spent some time reading the blogs of some of our most insightful journalists and commentators. Looking for Joe User in their comments. From podcasts to blogs to tweets, I'm still not finding Joe User front and center.
I am finding a lot of folks who think they know Joe User and are telling us what he wants. But they might be confusing this with what they think he needs. It is possible that these folks know something we don't. I have begun asking them to share this knowledge with the rest of us [comment 22]. If that's not the case, I'm not going to rest until I understand whether regular users around the world want one sign-in, or the ability to scrape data from one network and port it to another, or simply the ability to share data on a selective basis via tools that work within acceptable bounds for the social networks.
Until then, I'm afraid I'm going to have to view the swirling opinions as circular chatter rolling around the Silicon Echo Chamber. And to think about ways to understand whether openness and portability are as important to Joe User as his privacy.
Here's the thing we all must keep in front of us: we may know best, but we must begin consulting the user and the user experience in testing ourselves. Especially since it was Silicon Valley brilliance that brought them to the party in the first place. We changed the rules. Now we must play by them, too.
One thought on “Expert analysis: When will it meet the people?”
I completely agree. It’s a shame that it’s yet again primarily white men having the dominant conversations about data sovereignty, data rights and ownership, and privacy. It’s a skewed worldview and (speaking as a privileged white male myself) know that it’s only a fraction of the real-world use cases that need to be addressed if any of this stuff is going to be generalizable to the widest social spheres, or to anyone outside of the Valley.
I’ve been relieved and impressed that both you and Daniella play such central roles in the DP group; not simply because you are “not male”, but because you provide a qualified perspective that is going to be different from the typical blowhards who like to listen to their self-affirmed brilliance. Not that hubris doesn’t have its place, but I never trust people who self-anoint themselves to speak on behalf of people who they’ve never met or talked to.
Now, that said, I personally still have a lot of work to do to expand beyond my own circles of influence and inspiration, but it’s certainly a shortcoming that I recognize in my own approach, and I accept that I can’t possibly begin to generalize my experience beyond the rare little corner of the hyper-connected world that I happen to inhabit and so if I want my work to be meaningful, I’m going to need to reach out further and diversify the spectrum of folks who I might count as “stakeholders” in whatever work I throw myself into, now or next.