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Sunday, 12 June 2011

Mydata And Consumer Empowerment

On Thursday, work began in earnest on the 'mydata' project featured in the government's "Consumer Empowerment" strategy (see Better Choices: Better Deals, on which I posted earlier).

As with the overall consumer empowerment policy, the primary goal of the ‘mydata’ project is “to put consumers in charge so that they are better able to get the best deals for themselves, individually and collectively.” Achieving that involves enabling consumers to access information about their purchases, analyse it according to their own preferences and use that information to make better purchasing decisions.

As a long-time critic of the European Commission approach to facilitating e-commerce, I'm overjoyed the government is convinced that new legislation is not the best way to achieve consumer empowerment. Instead, it's relying on "a wide range of new programmes that have been developed in partnership with businesses, consumer groups and regulators" against a background of normal regulatory enforcement.

The mydata development work is being fostered through a series of 'boards', chaired by Professor Nigel Shadbolt. There's a Strategy board made up of private sector retail businesses, consumer bodies and government representatives; four Sector boards comprising representatives of suppliers in the energy, financial services, telecoms and retail sectors; and an Interoperability board of private and public sector representatives. The focus of the Interoperability board is on maximising synergies among the sector groups' work; addressing barriers common to all groups; maintaining a balance amongst key issues of practical utility, privacy, security and data portability; and offering suggestions on where ideas and solutions in one sector might link up (or mashup) with others to better reflect consumers' day-to-day activities.

I know what you're thinking, but these boards are not designed to be exclusive talking shops or symbolic meetings of 'the great and the good'. The idea is to be as pragmatic as possible, using the boards to draw in as many interested parties, ideas and resources as possible to achieve rapid progress. It's a fascinating challenge, and I'm thrilled to be helping out on the interoperability front.

There'll be plenty of project communications, of course, which I'll be doing my best to retweet etc, and send to people I know who may be interested or able to help. I also plan to share material that I happen across outside the project. For starters, I've included below the links to Sir Tim Berners-Lee's TED talk on the semantic web (or Linked Data) and a few of the items he mentions. I'm very interested to receive any comments, referrals, ideas etc you may have.



Sir Tim cites some key examples of Linked Data and its uses. DBpedia is the fascinating "community effort to extract structured information from Wikipedia and to make this information available on the Web." And here is the TED talk by Hans Rosling to which he refers:




Image from 1Million1Shot.
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