On the Internet, Data Will Verify You’re a Dog

Behold the dawn of a web where you are not whatever you say you are, but rather what data verifies you are. The amount of verifiable data on who we are and what we do is increasing pretty quickly. Where you’ve been, how far you jogged, what you purchased, etc. All of this combines into a contrail of proof floating behind one’s existence. The death of self-declaration!

Picture a kid today just entering grade school. Her entire life will be published, documented and aggregated online or at least networked. She will be the sum total of her tweets, posts, purchases — anything that can be explicitly or implicitly measured and tied to an ID.

The most exciting results will come in the shift from HOT AIR to VERIFIED DATA. “Hot Air” is what you claim. “Verified Data” is the truth. Here are some examples of the decreasing value of Hot Air.

Your resume. Could anything be more archaic? A purely first person account of your own skills and career history lovingly massaged to present you in the best light. I don’t want to read a bullet point that you are a python expert, i want to see the aggregate rating of your posts to python communities across the web and peer scoring of your code. The resume is going to be replaced by review of actual work product and social network references. I don’t want to see your rolodex — i want to see the number of emails and response time from key people in your contact list. I don’t want to hear about a project — i want to read the tweets from your users and see the change in your business’ performance. Summary views of your previous professional activity can replace personal claims.

Health insurance discounts. Check off a box that says how often your exercise? How about you give me a premium discount connected to my fitbit performance or 10% off my premium so long as i run 20 miles/week as monitored by NikeID shoes?

The claim “i’m an expert on…” Look at Quora – simple way for your friends to suggest and endorse topics where you have expertise. Foolproof? No. Better than a self-declared statement of authority? Yes.

The claim “i’m a huge fan of “ Really? Prove it. You say you’re a big MGMT fan? How many people have you directed to their YouTube videos? What has been the total number of FB friends who have “liked” your comments about their new songs? We’re going to see game mechanics + analytics create whole new types of relationships between individuals and objects/entities/etc.

The claim “you can trust me…” eBay’s biggest missed opportunity was not opening up their reputation system. Combining buyer/seller ratings w/ PayPal could have resulted in a near unassailable position in commerce. They decided to stay a walled garden instead of building a system which could have given them 2% of every transaction on the web. Others have tried to build generalized reputation systems but it’s challenging because no one wants to sit there and just rate other people (although Unvarnished is the latest start-up to try and solve this puzzle). Also see Travis Kalanick’s blog post on reputation.

So the product opportunities here are around shifting HOT AIR to VERIFIED DATA in B2C & B2B environments where the cost of poor decisions is high, sales conversions can be driven higher/marketing ROI increased or where 3rd party sourced data transparency results in better product experiences.

What are other areas which will shift from self-declared to verified data?

One thought on “On the Internet, Data Will Verify You’re a Dog

  1. Great post. Publish or perish takes on a whole new meaning in these times.

    I'm a recent parent and it's recently dawned on me that I hope my son will realize at a young age that his public online activities will become his first impression. Making a mistake online will become much more visible than making that mistake offline, for only a few to see. Along those lines, I need to be also need to be careful not to create that first impression of him, before he get's a chance. His name, his data to create.

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