Sunday, April 25, 2010

My Info is not a Commodity

My personal information is not a commodity. Its easy to think of it as a commodity because its so easy to put it a neat little digital box that is easily stored in a database or transferred from one database to another, much like you would with a barrel of oil sold on the commodities market.

But no matter what form its in, or how easy it is to box up and ship it off, its still mine. Even if you store it for me. Even if I use your site and a partners site. Its still mine. Its a piece of me. You can't have it. You can't take it from me, even if you promise a more "Instant Personalization" of the web.

I would like to see the web more personalized, but it must be done the right way. With my permission and my say as to how, when and where its personalized.

Opt in, not opt out.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Facebook, Trust and Insanity

Users have been quick to reject the new changes that Facebook has implemented over the last few days. Honestly what did Facebook expect? They've been down this road already with other privacy changes.

Einstein is quoted as saying "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Are they insane? Did they really think they could slip the recent privacy change past the users, opt everyone in and that no one would notice? They seem to fit Einstein's definition of insanity if you asked me.

I am sure that if you asked, they would argue that this is different because the changes benefit the users. It doesn't matter if the new features are the greatest thing since Farmville. It feels like a violation of trust and users will never be able to see past how they feel. They will never see the benefits of the new features now matter how great they are. Its not different and Facebook just doesn't get it.

Quite frankly it blows my mind that someone at Facebook didn't take the time to think through the launch of the new features. Did anyone ever stop and ask, "Hey, what do you think the users will think of us opting them in to sharing their personal info with third part websites?" Facebook is so far out of touch with the people that use the site it beyond laughable.

What would I have done if I were in charge of the launch? From the get go, this is positioned ALL WRONG. Did I mention that we have been down the privacy road before? Because of previous debacles, users don't trust Facebook to make changes in their best interest. So any new change, is automatically assumed to be bad by the user. Facebook as a brand, is seen by its users as disconnected, uncaring, not trust worthy and pretty much serving its own best interests in order to make money.

I would start a campaign to rebrand Facebook. Show users that Facebook actually cares about them and values them as users. Show them they can trust Facebook and its management. And it can't be a half hearted marketing stunt. It needs to be a genuine effort to connect with the people who use Facebook. Set up forums for people to air their grievances, email address with actual people on the other end to help people with their accounts and just start some good old customer service. Something like Comcast Cares. Right now, its impossible to get a hold of someone at Facebook unless you are an advertiser with a budget over $10,000.

"But this could be expensive" you say. Yes, but having a user base that trusts you is key to making money. Lately each new feature has been an attempt to move toward monetizing Facebook. And each new feature has been rejected. No Trust = No Money.

If anyone from Facebook reads this, I would be happy to help you regrow users trust, because right now, no one there gets it.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Nightly News

I am not sure why anyone watches the news anymore. There are just so many better places to get information from.

Last night, while I was watching a TV show, a commercial for the 10:00 news came on. The headline/teaser was, "Earthquake in southern California, details at 10:00". Not really much of a teaser, since I had already read about all of the details of the earthquake a few hours earlier online. They were just confirming to me that they had nothing to tell me and I had no reason to tune in.

With all of the digital technologies we have, information travels instantly. There is no waiting until 10:00pm for the story. When the plane crashed in the Hudson river a year or so ago, within seconds, someone had taken a picture with a cellphone and posted it on Twitter. Digital moves fast.

I am sure there are many people who still like to consume info in the 10:00 news format. Its the way they always have. Its habit and they like it. But as there are less and less of those people, the 10:00 news format will have to change and reinvent itself. If it doesn't its dead.