I believe that VRM starts with you being able to take charge of your data – data that you want to capture, analyse and otherwise harness, both for fun or for usefulness.
At the moment you are the last person to be able to benefit from your data on various platforms and from your ‘digital detritus’ – information that others harvest and use for their own purposes. A site with tools like wesabe may give you the ability to gather and analyse some of your financial data, but you’ll need new tools – free from platform lock-ins – to repeat that trick with data regarding anything else about which you care and need.
Obviously, to make the most of your new-found data autonomy, you will also need to be able to communicate, share and transact that data with others, individuals and vendors.
So there are two foundation stones for the VRM vision as described above:
- the place where you store, manage and play with your data (working name: u-spot)
- the methods (protocols, standards, etc) for sharing, exchanging and distributing that information, if you so wish.
Having had many discussions on this matter I wanted to share some of the ideas they generated. With Alec’s technical expertise and support we were able to articulate a vision of how people could interact with vendors in a VRM manner using existing online technology – a white paper was born, rivetingly named “Feeds-Based VRM”: A Web-Centric Approach to VRM Implementation
The goals for this paper were to:
- invent as little as possible
- reuse only popular technologies, techniques and user-interface metaphors in order to enable VRM, and…
- provide maximal inclusiveness and extensibility to the VRM implementation, to permit the greatest potential for growth.
…and within these simple constraints we have proposed a simple, inexpensive, viable path for VRM u-spot implementation and information sharing, using familiar technologies such as blogs, feeds, ATOM, and RSS.
Technical outline: the feeds-based VRM concept is for you to be able to manage, manipulate and share information – e.g. hotels you have visited, flights you have taken, wines you have enjoyed – using a pluggable web-based software platform similar to Wordpress or Movable Type; however unlike those tools which deal with free-form blog posts, instead your data is be stored as objects (encoded in pertinent open-standards formats) which are then “shared” via secure, self-referential, closed and authenticated ATOM or RSS feeds that can be read, aggregated or further processed by “subscribers” whom you authorize via your “friends list”.
The effect is: your data is held in one place and is authoritative. Your subscribers can see it. When you change it, your subscribers will see the changes.
No longer will you need to tell people when you change your address. They’ll already know.
Many thanks to Ben and Kevin for helpful comments. This is a contribution to an open source project to develop a web-centric VRM infrastructure.
The title reference is to the original post Power to the Persons!