Geotagged at home (51.427051,-0.333344)

Footprints (Of the Digital Variety)

One of the things I write about a lot on this blog are the areas of location and online, or digital, identity and how these two areas overlap and sometimes conflict.

I write about this stuff not only because I'm lucky enough to work in both of these areas but I also find them fascinating, compelling and nowhere is this more evident in how individuals and organisations views this arena.

Companies, if they're foresighted enough, are making major plays in the location field, fuelled by the proliferation of location aware devices (cameras, phones, netbooks and the like) and by the convergence of these devices (I use an iPhone ... is it a phone, a camera, a GPS unit, an internet terminal, a computer or some combination of them all?). There's much value to a company in knowing your customer's location and how it changes over time. Indeed it's a truism that it's much less about where you are now and much more about where you've been.

Individuals, if they're informed enough, know about the plays the companies are making in the location field and  should know how to determine the value proposition that is offered when they give up their location.

There's a lot of online coverage, some of it shrill and hysterical, some of it downright amusing and some of it in between these two extremes.But despite the extensive online coverage of this area it's still a truth that the printed word sometimes carries greater weight than the online equivalent. There's still something very visceral and real about holding a book in your hand, flipping back and forth through the pages and taking in what message the book is trying to deliver.

Last year, I was fortunate enough to be asked to be a contributor to a book on identity, privacy, trust and the direction of the Web by Tony Fish. My Digital Footprint, explores where next for the net, for the associated business models, who owns your data and how value and wealth will be created. The book is about the digital data created from your interactions with electronic devices, such as mobile phones, web PCs and TVs. This data has significant value, when analysed and fed-back, to create services with colour, focus and relevancy for you as a user, as well as to brands, who want to own your whole digital life experience.Digital footprint data is valuable and is the reason why the ownership of this data class is the Web’s next battleground. The two central ideas which underpin value in My Digital Footprint are: the real-time feedback loop and the role of the mobile device in enriching the value of the data. The ability to get data out of or off a mobile device lends itself to the unique advantage a mobile device has. The book explores how the mobile device once prevailed for the consumption of content and has evolved to enable the capturing of data on what and how we consume and with whom. Just like Marmite, some people like the idea of digital footprints and some do not, but, irrespective of personal preference, we all leave digital footprints behind us and they are about much more than just identity. Digital footprints are about where we have been, for how long, how often; with whom and the inter-relationships we formed in getting there. Digital footprints are memories and moments and not your personal identity, your passport, bank account or social security number.Read this book, either for free online or grab a copy from Amazon and not because I contributed but because if you use the net today, you really need to know about how companies want your location information and about how you can make an informed decision about how to manage and control this.

Photo credit: Paraflyer on Flickr

Gary Gale

I'm Gary ... a Husband, Father, CTO at Kamma, geotechnologist, map geek, coffee addict, Sci-fi fan, UNIX and Mac user