Next conference invites international bloggers to Data Love

The Next conference has managed for several years now to invite international speakers who are able to cast a little blink at the future of digital business, marketing and communication. The Next conference 2011 will take place this year on may 17th and 18th in Berlin, main subject will be “Data love” and the value created out of information. The Next makers would love to see more international bloggers at this conference, so this is a call to my friends from Barcelona, London, New York, Stockholm and now also South America to get over here to mingle with the European internet scene.

So Data love. What’s that about? Well, everybody loves data. Everybody wants to have them, store them, process them, recognize patterns in them. Apps love data, business models love data, small and big companies love data, even the government loves data! You love data, store your pictures in the cloud, copy music from your old computer to your new harddrive, backing up your files on a regular basis. For many people data have become more important that physical things, while travelling, I met many people who have been living for months with 5 shirts and 2 shorts but wouldn’t want to miss their music on the ipod, their books on the kindle and their facebook on their netbooks. DJs throw out their vinyl, listen to mp3s and happily enjoy the new found space.

But there are a lot of conflicts in this subject and unsolved problems, especially on the lines between organizations and individuals and the private and the public. Of course human related data can be especially interesting and valuable, like locations, relations, actions. But the question is: who does the data belong to? Is it my data because I caused it or is it somebody else’s because they recorded it? It’s an old problem of property when talking about relations. Is it my mail because I wrote and sent it to you or is it your mail because it was meant for you?

Most companies yet have no idea what to do with their data, I must assume. Apple, e.g. stores your locations in a file on the iPhone, nobody knows e.g. why. It just does. Because one day there could be a way to turn this data into a business model. Governments store an immense information about their citizens and would like to use it to prevent crimes, predict the future, plan better. Most people would have the opinion that despite all the data, governments pretty much fail in predicting the future and planning right.

So that’s the conflict line: Individuals feel uncomfortable knowing that a lot of information about them is stored somewhere, often under not especially secure circumstances and often to ends nobody knows yet. Is that a reason to avoid data and minimize the amount of data stored in general? That’s a principle privacy activists often claim to be the best way against surveillance and fraud, just don’t store any data at all. All the data lovers certainly won’t like this idea.

The truth, as always, will probably be in the middle. Most people would agree they like advertising that suits them better, products that have special features tailored to them or that just work better. On the other hand, people will get excluded from products and services, e.g. by location, gender, race. Is it fair to let somebody pay more for a health insurance e.g. because he is living in a poor neighborhood and has been proven not to leave that neighborhood often either, based on location tracking? It’s based on data, there’s a correlation, bad neighborhood, bad living habits, often sick, higher risk, it’s statistically proven, but is it fair? We think we know people by their data, but I think we don’t. Still, it’s a development, nobody will stop.

So, just scratching on the surface of this subject, I am looking forward to discussing this further, hearing about ideas about how to love data, what useful stuff to do with it. See you at Next 2011, hopefully!