Being a tourist is leveraging on a capital of personal and others’ experiences. Having them available can make tourism easier and more rewarding. Buying stuff is also benefiting to know exactly what I bought before. This can steer my buying and the customizing of services and products that I am acquiring. As flexibility in the offer increases, it is more and more relevant to be able to use our profile in the customisation of the offer. This profile will be extremely rich as more and more information is becoming available.
It is clear that I can leverage on this personal information because there are a lot of companies, out there, offering services to capture, analyse, structure, store and leverage on my information. Some of them are my trusted parties, others are just service Companies whom I disclose (part of) my data to get service from them. This “disclosure” part is a service by itself and is provided by one of my trusted parties.
I realise that a major business has developed because of these many digital shadows around. The complexity is similar, may be bigger, to the one of managing a gigantic warehouse, and on top of that there is the empathy of remembrance, something that is unknown of to a warehouse. New enterprises that did not existed ten years ago are know acting as intermediary between personal information and services. It is like a new Internet of personal Information, and feelings, has sprout on the technologies that have made the Internet a ubiquitous framework for business and consumers alike. Many new technologies have appeared, some enabling this business, others exploiting it.
I have come to consider my data as a value that I can leverage on in terms of getting better services, and, sometimes, in terms of an asset I can release as a citizen or a participant in a community.
Privacy is very much a given in the sense that the amount of information that can be acquired has made me even more conscious of its value and on the potential danger, were this information fall into wrong hands. Protecting information, however, shall not annihilate it. I do not want undesired parties to access my information but I do not want to cut myself off from the benefit provided by having access to it.
Government Regulation shall evolve to guarantee both privacy and ownership of information. One should not cut on the other.
Government and Institutions are also very much interested in exploiting the digital shadows of their constituencies, since they can develop better plans, more to the point and timely, they can make better use of resources, they can provide better services.
These span from proactive traffic management (knowing where people are and will be moving enables dynamic forward looking traffic management), to health care (epidemic diffusion and control, right-sizing emergency centres and hospitals), from energy management to transportation. There is very little in today’s Society that cannot exploit the availability of information.
Internet is there both as a connectivity fabric, that I no longer perceive since it is ubiquitous and embedded/transparent, and as a suite of services provided by a variety of parties. Bandwidth is seldom an issue, since most information is floating nearby, in my cell phone, in my car, in my home media centre. This information is, most of the time, pushed in my vicinity based on my profile. This information creates a context, and communication is taking place in a contextualised way.
My digital shadow, therefore, plays an important role in my being connected and…understood.
It turns out that the sharing of (part of) my digital shadow makes work much more effective since my working experience can be shared and leveraged by my team mates. Similarly, my social network derives benefits from having access to (parts of) my digital shadow.
I also understand that there may be new ethical issues surfacing. And dangers. But dangers are something I am prepared to deal with, as I have in the past confronting with the various fraud brought forward by Internet. The ethical issues are more complex, ‘cause they are new. What happens to me if I lose part of my digital shadow? Will my digital shadow over live my physical body? What if, after a stroke that incapacitate me, I am confronted with someone who pretends, even just in bits, to be me?