Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Opportunity For Personal Data Lockers To Move Into Mainstream Consciousness

I was first introduced to the concept of a personal data locker after discovering The Locker Project by Jeremie Miller (@jeremie). For some of us activist oriented technologists, who live in a Silicon Valley driven world where data is the new oil, a personal data locker that allows us to store, and reclaim our personal data is essential.

I personally feel that educated individuals, who understand the importance of owning the digital content they generate online, and have a personal data store to put this content into, will be essential to a healthy economy in the future. Without this, just a small percentage of primarily rich, white folks will be successful with technology companies, generating huge revenue on the backs of the average individual.

It doesn't matter where a personal data locker exists, it can be locally on a computer, in the cloud on existing platforms like Dropbox, Amazon, Google, or even the Raspberry Pi in your closet. The only thing that matters is that it is somewhere the individual is in control of, and these individuals are also literate in the how and why of being in control of their digital self.

Unfortunately projects like the Locker Project haven’t seen the adoption we need to bring the concept of personal data lockers into the mainstream consciousness. As of 2014, the masses are pretty comfortable just storing their digital content on whichever platform it was generated, and only the tech savviest reclaim their photos, videos, messages and other valuable content, and store within their own domain.

Tech companies are not interested in giving you control over your data. Facebook, Twitter, Google and the other platforms you use, generate revenue from your personal information, location, relationships, photos, videos and other activities. Personal data lockers will not come from these tech companies, who have venture capital—sorry.

After attending a two day meeting, hammering out a standard around energy data and APIs for the Green Button initiative, the concept of giving consumers acces to their data is front and center in my consciousness. Green Button is a federal government initiative that is looking to get ALL the utility companies across the US to provide usage data for power, water and gas to their consumers.

In addition to the Green Button initiative, there is Blue Button from Department of Veteran Affairs and Health and Human Services, looking to get the average citizen, as well as veterans their health data. There is also movement from the IRS to provide transcripts of your tax history, and from the Department of Education to get you your education data via the MyData Button.

Providing users access to their critical data via Green Button, Blue Button, IRS, and Dept of Ed, represent an opportunity to move data ownership into the mainstream consciousness. Even as exciting as this is, it is clearly at odds with the current online reality, where tech companies aren’t interested in an educated, data savvy consumer. Also we don’t have enough access and availability to personal data lockers for the average individual and businesses to put their energy, health, financial and education data into--all of which concerns me.

I’m not ignorant to how much work it will be to move the concept of data ownership and stewardship into the mainstream, especially when the federal government is involved, and the private sector is currently experiencing a boom in companies who generate revenue from exploiting users data. Even with these challenges, I’m optimistic that we can leverage the open data efforts of the federal government, into opportunities to make users aware of the importance of the personal data locker, as well as incentivize the deployment of more open source, and proprietary cloud personal data lockers.


The Toll A Car Takes

I currently live in Los Angeles, and I do not own a car. People often don’t believe me when I say I live in Los Angeles without a car, but I do. When I need a vehicle I walk down the road to Enterprise rental car and get the vehicle I need, for only the exact time I need it.

This week I needed to attend a 2 day meeting in Pasadena. Since I live in Redondo Beach, I would need a car to make the 30 mile trip--so I headed down the street to Enterprise. By 8:05 AM I had my car and headed to Pasadena, experiencing that distantly familiar LA freeway commute. Google Maps said the trip would be 50 minutes total, but in reality it took almost 75 minutes.

I made this same trek back and forth for two days, with the longest trip taking almost 2 hours because of traffic. After each 10 hour day, I was exhausted. Sure an 8 hour, day long meeting was part of it, but the commute left me buzzing and exhausted each evening.

I just dropped off the rental car and walked back home along the beach, reflecting on how lucky I am to not have a car. After a couple of years of being car-less, I've gotten used to not having the thousand pound beast in my life, and when I return the rental car, this is always very clear to me.

During a normal work day, I can easily work 12 hours (not all in a row), and feel great each evening, and the next morning—resulting in me feeling happy and well adjusted in general. The toll of having a car, the Los Angeles commute, and 8 hour meeting, was expensive in both money and energy. Here I am on Wednesday morning back to work as normal, and I'm not nearly as productive as usual—an added expense.

The toll a vehicle took on my existence over the last two days is only this clear because of the way I normally live. Back when I owned a car, I never fully realized this tax on my time, energy and finances. With car ownership I had it even worse with insurance, tires, maintenance, parking, and other car related expenses, time and energy sucks. I'm so thankful every time I return a rental car, that I don't have these permanent sucks on my soul.

It has definitely taken some reengineering of my life, to be able to live without a car. My daughter Kaia doesn't live with me full-time, I have a very supportive partner in crime with Audrey, and I have a career that allows me to work remotely. All of which contributes to me being able to live this way, but after reminding myself of the toll a car takes on my life, on days like today, leaves me confident that I will never go back to owning a car--ever.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Join Me For The Kin Lane Show At API Days in Berlin May 5th And 6th

I attended a conference in Vancouver British Columbia last week. Well I didn’t actually attend or speak at the conference, I was just there to support my partner in crime Audrey Watters(@audreywatters). If you have seen me at events, you know Audrey and I usually travel together, and support each other at events.

While I just worked in the room and lobby, while she attended the conference, I took notice of her approach to delivering her unique keynote. She was the final keynote of the two day event, and her talk was crafted throughout the two days of watching other speakers, and interacting with attendees. On the final day she provided a summary of what she heard and saw, and how it was aligned or misaligned with the overall ed-tech space—the world she covers.

After watching this process, I thought I might give the approach a try. While I’m too busy at API Strategy & Practice organizing and MC’ing, this is something I could do at API Days. I remembered that I actually hadn’t provided a talk title or abstract to API Days in Berlin, they know I’ll deliver something right? So I visited the website to see where they had me in the schedule.

I visited the page, scrolled down, down, and what do ya know? I’m at the end of the first day. Perfect opportunity for providing a recap of day one, which I see many topics of which I can speak to as part of the big API picture, but also craft a talk on the fly, hacked together from what I’m hearing from other speakers and attendees—and call it the Kin Lane Show.

Great name API Days, I couldn't have come up with better title myself. I look forward to seeing y'all in Berlin in couple of weeks.


I Will Be Talking Business of Internal APIs in Vegas at IBM Impact

The biggest impact APIs will have at your company will be the internal, cultural change regarding how you do business. We are in the middle of an explosion of APIs, and while there are many new public APIs emerging, the majority of growth is coming from the deployment of internal APIs.

There is a lot that companies can learn from the open API movement over the last fourteen years, with many building blocks, and healthy practices that can be applied when internally deploying APIs.

This is a topic I will be exploring on API Evangelist, and at the IBM Impact conference at the Venetian in Las Vegas, NV—April 27th through May 1st. The abstract from my talk, titled "Business of Internal APIs” is:

The largest area of growth in the last couple years of APIs is internally within the enterprise. There are numerous lessons that can be extracted from the world of public APIs, and applied internally within any company, helping increase agility, efficiency, while also helping develop new business lines. When it comes to APIs, the secret to success isn’t all about technology, and this session will help introduce you to the business of internal APIs, extracted from the approach of leaders in the space.

In my experience there are fundamental elements that make APIs successful, where more classic approaches like service oriented architecture (SOA) fall short. When companies are deploying APIs for internal consumption, you have to consider elements like self-service access, up to date API docs, code samples, and the human elements, that have made public API deployments successful.

Even though internal APIs consumers will have some unique needs that your partner or public API consumers won't, there will also be many similar patterns across your internal, partner and public API customers that you will need to leverage. If you can’t be in Vegas at the end of the month to hear me talk, just tune into API Evangelist and I’ll make sure I publish everything online for consumption by all my readers.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Your Password Management Process For Your App Sucks!

I just went through 52 services that I depend on, and experienced 52 different ways to manage passwords—most of which sucked! It seems that each service has their own way of allowing you to change your password.

It would be nice if there were UX blueprints that companies could follow when offering standard features like password management. At least it would be nice if developers went and experienced 10-20 password flows within existing leading apps, before designing their own.

In 2014 there are some pretty strong patterns that have emerged for application user experience, I think we just need more places where we can browse and experience the best patterns out there, so we can emulate them when developing our own apps.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Reclaiming My Domain

After the recent heartbleed security fiasco, I’m spending my weekend going through my list of online services that I depend on, changing my passwords, and along the way I’m going to reclaim as much of my domain as I can.

I will be asking some questions of each online service, questions like, why do I use this service? does this service have an API? Questions that will help me establish a profile of that service, to better understand how I use it, and whether there is any valuable content or information I should be organizing in a better way.

I produce a lot of content each day, and on the surface it seems like I maintain control over most of this, but in reality my content resides in online services like Twitter, LinkedIn, and other places that I frequent daily.

I do a pretty good job of centrally managing the blog content I generate each day. I have a central CMS where I create my blog entries, and then syndicate to my network of 60+ Github repositories, that use Github Pages + Jekyll.

When it comes to my social media streams, I do a very poor job of maintaining control over my network. I do not store my Tweets, Facebook, Linked or other social streams anywhere. I don’t centrally sync my network of friends and business contact, until recently. I now have a central CRM alongside my blog CMS, but I’m just getting started there.

Overall, there is just a lot of content I generate on the Internet, and in addition to understanding my online footprint, to make sure it is secure, I want to make sure I maintain as much control over the intellectual exhaust I generate each day, as I can. I want all my messages, contacts, streams and media to have the widest possible reach, across the latest online services, but I also want to make sure they are organized and stored in a central place that I control.

You will hear me say the phrase “Reclaim Your Domain” a lot in the future. I think this is the evolution of API Evangelist, beyond the business of APIs, and more into the politics of APIs, and helping people understand why APIs are important for orchestrating your online world, keeping yourself safe and secure, but also establishing the greatest control over the value you generate online each day.

Photo Credit - Wikimedia Commons


Friday, April 4, 2014

So Much Can Be Lost Through Automation

As I go through the management of my 60+ research sites that make up my API Evangelist network, I can't help but think about how I can automate specific aspects of the process. This is the way my custom built platform works, I have workflows and tasks I accomplish each day, and as I have time, I will write scripts and automate where I can.

In an ordinary week I will process hundreds of blog feeds, tweets and new APIs, and sometimes I’m tempted to automated my curation, sorting, tagging and other aspects of what I do, but then I find valuable nuggets on company sites, blog and other places. Valuable insight that my algorithms wouldn't necessarily find, things that I can use in stories across the API Evangelist network, as well as expand my own knowledge.

Each day I work to strike this balance between manually monitoring the API space, and automating what I do. I am constantly re-evaluating whether something is better automated, and at what point does something need my critical eye.

As I write this post, I can't help but think about all the talk of automation via the web, mobile apps and Internet of things (Iot) each day, and hope that we all can find restraint, and apply critical thinking around how we best use Internet enabled technology in our lives—minimizing what we lose by automating our worlds.