Note: This is a mirror post from my unreasonablemen blog. Ben Kepes and I recently locked horns over this topic. As you can tell I like having anonymity on the web. There are various reasons for this, but my primary concern is security and keeping some clear demarcation between my private and business life. I don’t blog in the weekends or evenings, nor do I work unless absolutely essential. I made some lifestyle decisions a few years back & have never regretted them.

It is my assertion that in my private life I can be web 1.0 or even (gasp) bricks & mortar, while in my business life I can be 2.0 & think SaaS is the bees knees.

Ben conversely thought this paradox not only odd, but it represented a doomsday scenario for SaaS.

Let me start by pointing out various posts which hopefully will go some way to explaining my security fears. Steve Borsch does a great job of explaining the Google ‘threat’ and expands on this with some insights into data mining. Then there is the growing infringement of governments on ‘our’ data and viola, I feel vindicated. I know that the ability exists for people to piece it all together, but that doesn’t mean I have to make it easy for them. Shel at thinks this is being anonymous is lame, but I would suggest that anonymity is not only a right but a desired state for some (look at 2nd life).

So how does this affect SaaS? Well to me not at all. I am completely comfortable with cloud services in a work environment. I would love it if by some AJAX phenomenon someone matched my revenue with products that could aid me I or did something funky with my search patterns. I would love a tool that examined my calling patterns & suggested ways to save money. Or something that monitored where I & my Staff go on the internet to manage cyber-slacking etc……I just don’t want any of it in my personal life. I don’t want MS money analysing my spend patterns, knowing how much I earn & doing any product matching based on their knowledge of my search & surfing behaviour. That is too intrusive to me, that kind of scenario opens up the world painted by Fake Steve Job’s here.
“It will make the old Bell System crooks look like amateurs. The guys running the cloud will control everything: phone, data, video, television, movies, music.”
That’s ok in my business space which is open to compliance & monitoring & all those things. But in my world, it’s not ok in my personal life. And like I said, I think I can make these two work quite happily.

6 Comments
  • Interesting post UM. As you say we agree to disagree.

    All this 2.0 stuff is primarily, in my opinion, about getting more relevant data to the user. Be it financial, commercial, personal or entertainment. If you accept this raison d’etre, then I fail to see how you could not invite the same degree of relevancy and context into all parts of your life.

    Further to this the demarcation between home and work is rapidly shrinking – it doesn’t take the CIA any longer to work out someone’s personal and business personae and mash the two together. I like the fact that I have both business and social connections on Facebook – it seems so much less artificial.

    So I say bring it o – let the cloud encompass us all and let all that we do be relevant and n context to ourselves and our place in the world…..

  • quis custodiet ipsos custodes

    (Who guards the guards?)

  • In Cano speramus?

    (In dog we trust?)

  • Again from Steve Borsch http://www.iconnectdots.com/ctd/2007/10/google-doing-ev.html

    “If I could come in to your home and invisibly observe you reading, watching TV, eating and parenting your children, it’s likely I could recommend content, products and services that would make your life better. But you really don’t want me lurking in your home observing you invisibly, do you? Every time you use a Google service (which I do often, by the way) you’re letting them observe just about everything you do online. Think about it.”

    My point is that they talk about “Do no evil”. Yet to some they already have (http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/11/27/google-voluntarily-provides-details-of-anonymous-blogger-in-israel/)
    So really isn’t the mantra “do no evil except where told to by the government” . This when the company is performing well and a growth stock. What happens when the going gets tougher (which it will) and growth becomes harder (which it will) and they start thinking, what alternative revenue streams do we have…. oh datamining etc

  • UM said…
    Every time you use a Google service (which I do often, by the way) you’re letting them observe just about everything you do online. Think about it.

    First of all, Google is a private company (private property of its shareholders). I always hate, when people demand that property owners (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc…), must implement their wishes. Internet search is free. Imagine if Google and the likes, start charging for users everytime one does an online search? People will be whinging about this. People want free services, but at the same time they also want their wishes to be implemented by those free services, such as, don’t do recommendation on me, don’t profile my online behavior, blah, blah, blah… If people don’t like to use those free services, just bugger off and avoid using them. I defend property owners of how they choose to run their businesses. Consumers don’t have a birthright (even constitutional rights) to other’s properties and things. Consumers only have a choice to products or services that are offered to them by producers and not a right to have them in the first place, if they’re not available.

    UM said…
    What happens when the going gets tougher (which it will) and growth becomes harder (which it will) and they start thinking, what alternative revenue streams do we have…. oh datamining.

    Google, Yahoo, Microsoft had been doing data-mining since the late 1990s. Online recommendation, online search, etc, are all data-mining. Online users must be made aware of this, so that they won’t be caught by surprise. It is then their free choice, to use those services or not. Whingers about those free-services shouldn’t cry-baby to the state or the government calling or lobbyig to muzzle those private businesses via legislation about the use of their online data. These services didn’t come with a gun and force online users to use their services, users simply volunteered to use those services.

    Finally, I completely agree with UM, about keeping his identity in business or private life different in relation to online activities.

  • Hey Fisi,

    All great points.

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