Information Diaspora

Posted: 9 December 2007 in Uncategorized
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I’m going to officially coin the term information diaspora to mean the dispersion of individual personal preference information throughout the web. Whenever you sign up for an account, you leave a part of your personal information somewhere. Whenever you enter an address to order a book, more information. When you look through digg comments and you thumbs-up or thumbs-down a comment, more information. Whenever you favorite a video on youtube, leave a wall post on facebook, rate a movie on netflix, more information. All of this information is accessible to you as long as you can recall where you have left it. If you forget about a website you signed up for, that information is now missing. It’s not dead or gone, just missing.

Your brain is no longer the homeland of all these orphaned data. Social networking is great, but with the current Web 2.0 bubble expanding the way it is, the inherent incompatibility in the global network is becoming more and more a problem.

My Facebook information is divorced from my Myspace information. My youtube viewing habits are unaware of the 700+ movies I rated on Netflix. Indeed, since I cancelled my Netflix account, I have no way of getting to that information anymore. In fact, even on Facebook itself, we are seeing this problem. I first installed the Books application and added a few dozen books before discovering Visual Bookshelf. Visual Bookshelf is a great app and one I highly recommend. But what if I want to compare my book tastes to someone with the Books app? What if I come across another book-related app and am faced with the proposition of adding the 176+ books I have on my Visual Bookshelf to this new app? What if this new app were even better?

So all of our little information children are locked in their corners of the web, unable to communicate with each other. I have no solution here, unfortunately, just a gripe. This problem is only going to get worse and services that try to aggregate information from multiple social networking sources aren’t the solution. Just look at Mashable. It attempts to tie your social networking logins together, but its flaw is that you can add sites to your constellation of crap-on-the-web faster than it can integrate new sites into its system. To my knowledge, it doesn’t even make an attempt to do this for anything other than the most popular sites.

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