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the Fishbowl Flag

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Jul. 21st, 2012 | 09:16 pm
location: singapore

A Big Data idea came up at the Singapore Quantified Self meetup last week. Working title: the Fishbowl Flag.

Problem 1: There's a lot of data about me out there – public transit tap-in and tap-out logs; medical records; utility statements; geolocation records. In a sense it's "my data" because it's about me, but in another sense it's not, because it lives on external servers which I have no access to.

Problem 2: Researchers working with public data are limited to pared-down, anonymized datasets. The limits exist because the public haven't given informed consent to publication.

Inspiration: Esther Dyson said she'd publish her genome. Genomera.com is doing crowdsourced clinical trials.

Solution to Problem 1: Imagine a Data Transparency Act that requires all public and corporate records of individual data to be made available to that citizen. In the Web 1.0 era that data would be compressed into a zip file and shipped grudgingly upon request, much as Facebook offers a zip archive of your account. In the cloud era that data would be made available in the cloud not just through a dumb webpage but through some sort of JSON-standard API. UP Singapore's data wiki and Microsoft's Project Nimbus give a sense of the datasets available.

Solution to Problem 2: Imagine if you could instruct all those data sources to share your data at the anonymity level of your choice, with the recipients of your choice. Even if only one Quantified Self geek out of a hundred muggles signed up to flip their fishbowl flag, a lot of data would be liberated. One might even choose to share one's data only with other people who had similarly signed up to share their data: you show me yours, I'll show you mine. First the early adopters do it, then the network effects take over and everybody volunteers.

In most societies the Fishbowl Flag would require opt-in. But under the theory of "libertarian paternalism", and under the theory that Singaporeans are unusually sanguine about state intrusion into the private sphere, it might be possible for Singapore to be the first country in the world to turn the Fishbowl Flag on by default.

I invite the Quantified Self people to continue this discussion here on my interblog.

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Comments {4}


Banks should be the first to do this (Solution to Problem 1)

from: vitoc
date: Jul. 21st, 2012 03:40 pm (UTC)


Banks should be the first to receive the mandate for such an act (Data Transparency) imo.

As for Solution to Problem 2. Adding on to the last paragraph, URA already provides anonymous caveats lodged for property transactions and everyone loves it! We should have more of such definitely.

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Greg Connor

(no subject)

from: gconnor
date: Jul. 21st, 2012 10:39 pm (UTC)

Something I have been thinking about, which might be along similar lines... What if we could each "vote" on belief/opinion statements, sharing our beliefs/opinions with others who know us, and allowing our votes to be counted anonymously, aggregated over a wider field?

For example, the question could be "I believe higher incomes should be taxed at a higher rate" and the answers could be on two dimensions, first from "Agree strongly" to "Disagree strongly" and second (optionally) from "I feel strongly about this" to "I don't feel strongly". If you choose to share your individual answers with friends, fine... but even if you don't, you could see how your opinions compare to others.

The aggregate info could also be broken down, like showing whether people identifying as "democratic voter" or "California resident" agree or split on various issues.

I would agree to have my votes counted up in an aggregate way. So far there is no meaningful way to contribute information into the "public domain" without totally exposing oneself.

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Dennis Yar

Full DNA Data for fishbowl

from: Dennis Yar
date: Jul. 30th, 2012 03:22 am (UTC)

Putting Full DNA with some user's stat and lifestyle data will be useful for the fishbowl project.

User's actual identity may be hidden if required

User will get to know more diseases they are prone to.

And researchers will get to find more genetic links to diseases.

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Dan Dascalescu

Quantified Selfers would be a good start

from: Dan Dascalescu
date: Jan. 7th, 2013 07:17 pm (UTC)

As the founder of the Quantified Self Forum (https://forum.quantifiedself.com/), I have access to the stats of how many users signed up using an email/password combination, vs. a Facebook account.

Turns out that among these generally privacy- and security- conscious individuals, 26% use their Facebook account to login to the QS forum. Most others use their real names on the forum (though I didn't count exactly how many, since there are over 1,000 users now).

This suggest that an initiative like the Fishbowl Flag may be quite successful in getting a critical mass to share their personal data.

PS: Meng, I found out about your blog from my friend and partner at Blueseed, Dario. Read a bit about you and we seem to share a lot of interests. (BTW, I used pobox.com back in '96 :)

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