Revised “data” goal for 2010

December 14th, 2008

My proposed revision of this goal is:

Goal:  Make the explosion in data safer, more valuable and more managable for  individuals

This would be followed by some subpoints, along the lines of those below. They need some work, but I want to post the general idea for reaction before I spend more time on the subpoints.

  1. products offer people realistic options for managing data created by or about them
  2. people EXPECT access to their data, ability to combine it, move it, manage it as theirs

The change is because I don’t feel we have a solid enough consensus on the original proposal. This was:  provide leadership in

  • helping people exercise better ownership and control over their data
  • making anonymous, aggregate “usage data” more of a public resource

The idea of making any data available to anyone has generated concern. Some of this I think is due to a lack of concrete examples, or to a misperception that this would involve Mozilla software tracking people’s behaviors, or to a concern that it’s hard to anonymize data. But some of the concern is a basic discomfort with the currently invisible generation and processing of so much data, or the idea of a public “data commons,” or a concern about what’s happening “to” me through my software.

The data explosion is only just beginning, and it’s powerful. New forms of data can help us understand new things and solve new problems we can’t even see the shape of yet. But there’s a risk that each one of us will end up at the mercy of others who control the data. This risk affects our privacy, the degrees of choice and innovation available, and the degree of centralization of our online lives.

We should have a goal that reflects both the potential benefits and the risks of the data explosion.

6 comments for “Revised “data” goal for 2010”

  1. 1

    Zak Greant said on December 15th, 2008 at 11:33 pm:

    Perhaps education and awareness are an important early step here? I suspect that most web users need to learn a good deal about how they leave trails of data as they surf the net before they can start thinking about what this means and what they should be able to do with this data.

  2. 2

    Zak Greant said on December 16th, 2008 at 6:44 am:

    Search and you shall receive. 🙂

    The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has a set of privacy awareness resources for ordinary Net users. At a glance, resources like seem good (if incomplete.)

    I’m working up a quick overview of the space. I’ll post it in the next few days (after getting back home to Canada.)

  3. 3

    Osman said on December 16th, 2008 at 3:01 pm:

    If Mozilla insists of stepping into gathering usage data, then it should be done by a plug-in or add-on and should be in case of opt-in; it should not come as a built-in feature and/or enabled by default.

  4. 4

    Mitchell Baker said on December 18th, 2008 at 11:45 am:

    Osman: the usage data piece is no longer a goal. It was never intended to be about intrusive tracking.


  5. 5

    mitchell said on December 18th, 2008 at 2:52 pm:

    I added “understand” to the next revision to address the question of education.

  6. 6

    Pingback from about:mozilla - 2010 goals, Thunderbird 3, Labs meetup, updating add-ons, Foundation report, Impact Mozilla, and more… | Bits & Pieces

    […] the proposed goals have been posted to Mitchell’s weblog, including the “Firefox” goal, the “data” goal, the “mobile” goal, and the “centerpiece” […]

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