Data Banks

January 12, 2011

I think it's time we rethink data.

Think about every website you depend on.  Your photos are on Flickr, Facebook, TwitPic, Plixi, yFrog, Imageshack and Photobucket.  Videos on YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Flickr and TwitVid.  Status updates on Twitter,, Pownce, Jaiku and Google Buzz.  Checkins in Foursquare and Gowalla.  Purchasing history in Amazon.  Comments in Disqus, IntenseDebate, Echo.  Blog posts in Wordpress, Typepad, Blogger and even LiveJournal.  Shortened links in  Geocities. Tripod. Angelfire.  You get the idea.

What if we, the users, controlled our data in a place we trust?  What if these services weren't allowed to store your data behind their wall?  What if they had to request permission and to read and write to your data on your own terms?

Data is becoming more and more valuable as consumers depend on cloud services to manage their life.  How much would it cost if you were to lose all that data you depend on?  Data has value and is worth protecting just as much as the dollars in our bank account.

My solution: a Data Bank.  Some quick thoughts:

  • You'd have a data account.
  • Audited transactions: deposits and withdrawals of data.  Statements of data use.
  • Only standard data formats are supported.
  • Data Banks would be regulated and protect consumers.  FDIC like backup policies etc.
  • There would be many data banks to choose from.  Accounts are transferable.
  • 3rd parties (applications) can access your account under certain rules.
  • I'd imagine there would be regulations on caching data for performance (i.e. data can only be kept for up to 24 hours).
  • An example: you give Facebook access to your Data Bank account.  You upload photos to Facebook.  Facebook writes those photos in your Data Bank account.  You decide you want to deny Facebook further access and grant access to Flickr instead.  Flickr reads all of those photos stored in standard format from your Data Bank account.  Now you're using Flickr.  Facebook doesn't have copies of your photos anymore and you never had to cede control of them.

I have a lot more to say on this topic and possible technical solutions to solving this problem.  Food for thought :)