Rebuilding the Internet Around YOU!


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We live in an increasingly connected world, where much of our lives is being captured digitally as data: our transactions, our interactions, our movements. As more things become connected through the Internet-of-Things (IoT), even more data is being generated. This is the much discussed big-data. And it’s all about US!

Whose Data is It Anyway?
Even though this data is generated by us, it doesn’t belong to us, but to those collecting it, e.g. the supermarket that tracks our purchases, the telco that delivers our SMS and the search engine that monitors our searches. Even if our own data is returned to us, we probably wouldn’t really know how to use it because the data is presented in a way to help the institution that collected it, not us.

As individuals, we are become increasingly worried about online privacy and security, and some of us are starting to withdraw from being too digitally visible. Governments may start addressing these privacy and security issues through regulation, but that will likely only increase costs. This could make some institutions reluctant to invest in innovation, which in turn could lead to a downward spiral where higher costs, leads to less innovation, fewer business opportunities and ultimately, fewer jobs.

There is a need to reverse this and create an upward spiralling effect on the digital economy. This is what the Hub-of-All-Things (HAT) project aims to do.

The Hat Project: Your Digital Data Vault
This is the HAT’s unique proposition: it provides us as individuals, with the opportunity to create a repository of our own data, generated, owned and controlled by us.

The Project is building a database owned by individuals, where each of us will have a HAT of our own data, similar to how we have email or bank accounts. This HAT contains all the data we would need to help make our lives better, from IoT-data in our homes, through supermarket purchase data, to personal data on social media.

By owning our data and seeing it as a digital asset that can help us lead better lives, we will be motivated to generate more data by being more digitally visible. This reverses the issue of a ‘shrinking supply’ of data. Since we are using the data for our benefit, we will make sure that it is as accurate as possible, thus solving the issue of good quality data. And by keeping our HATs secure in a trusted environment, we can hopefully address the security and privacy issues too.

Analysing Your Digital Behaviour
A lot of data currently collected is still vertical data, which needs to be re-organised and transformed in a ‘horizontal’ way so that it can be used by individuals to make better decisions. Also, as human beings, we interact with our data and can actually help contextualise it for more meaningful usage.

Using a Service Dominant Logic, the HAT project will develop a human schematic database that organises vertical data according to the way we create value with products and services, and how we use information in our lives. We can co-create that database with our own sense-making and intelligence. For example, we can get data about the temperature in our environment: at home, in the car, the workplace and outdoors. But what we really want to know is ‘what will the lowest temperature I will encounter today be, so that I will know what to wear?’. To achieve this, we need to place this vertical data into the HAT, which would transform it into horizontal-type data that can help us make those decisions.

A Multi-sided Market of Trusted Partners
It’s no use owning all this data if we can’t use it to make our lives easier, better and more fulfilling.
The HAT is not just a database; it is also a multi-sided market platform that enables you to exchange our data for services that can make our lives better, e.g. exchanging our diet data for personalised grocery bundles. This will help create a market for personal data, which is important for the future growth of the digital economy, but in a way that fits our lives better. It takes a more democratic approach to how data is owned and accessed, and helps institutions tailor what they offer to consumers in a scalable way.

Empowering the Individual
The HAT was conceived because we feel that rather than just making things smarter, technology can make us smarter and more empowered. We want to be smart, not just have smart things. We also want to ensure that our privacy can be preserved and the right to create, manage and use the data are under our control.

If You Want to Get Ahead, Get a HAT
The HAT Project allows each of us to acquire data and build our own repository of horizontal, meaningful data that is useful for contextual decision-making and enables us to exchange our data with firms for products and services. When we create a horizontal platform that fits human lives, we also create the next stage of the Internet; that of people and things. With an epic collision of manufacturing, service and Internet companies, new horizontal-type business and economic models that are human-centric will emerge.

The Hat Project wants to put the UK at the centre of the next phase of the Internet’s revolution, but we also want to start a revolution to own, control and use our own data, for our own benefit.

Have Your Own Say
The HAT Project is keen to hear what you think. Why not post your thoughts at the Hat Discussion Forum . And why not get more involved with the Project at the first First Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in London on the 17th July. If you want to make the Internet really work for you, this is a great opportunity.

Republished from Hub-of-All-Things with permission.

Graham Hill

Further Reading:

Hat as Your Digital Data Vault

Service Dominant Logic

HAT for Discovery of Contextual Archetypes

HAT as a Multi-sided Market Platform & Trust Broker

HAT as Empowering the Individual

Hat Discussion Forum

First Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

Graham Hill (Dr G)
Business Troubleshooter | Questioning | Thoughtful | Industrious | Opinions my own | Connect with me on LinkedIn


  1. To get the conversation going, I will post some searching questions abut the implications of the HAT Project…

    The HAT will collect and store data about consumer behaviour in their own Personal Data Store. The data will be analysed to identify contextual archetypes about their behaviour.

    Do consumers want their every move to be recorded, stored and analysed, even if they have full control over how data and analyses about them will be used?

    What do you think? Post a response here or directly at the HAT Project Forum.

  2. The HAT should provide customers with a Personal Information Management interface to allow them to ‘manage’ how data in their Personal Data Store is analysed, who will have access to the data and analyses, and for what purposes they can be used.

    Customers should be able to express their preferences and give explicit permissions for their data and analyses to be used in particular ways, and shared with partners (or not). Note: This is likely to become law when the new EU Directive on Data Protection comes into effect in a couple of years.

    What tools should we give consumers to control who has access to their data and analyses, and how they can be used?

    What do you think?

    Post a response here or directly at the HAT Project Forum.

  3. The HAT Project will use sophisticated analytics to identify common, recurring patterns of consumer behaviour. These ‘contextual archetypes’ will be very useful for partners as sources of insight to create innovative new services and in particular, as selection mechanisms to market carefully selected services to consumers.

    But what if consumers wanted to simply take their data away, e.g. under the UK Govt MiData programme, and give it to a third-party to analyse for them, or to create customised services, or even to match against existing services in the market.

    Should consumers be able to take their own copy of HAT data about themselves to
    provide to a third-party?

    What do you think?

    Post a response here or directly at the HAT Project Forum.

  4. Consumer’s data about their activity will be collected through connected IoT devices. This will start in the home, but is likely over time to be extended to other connected devices outside the home. This will start to generate the ‘big-data’ about individuals and their behavior that is often discussed, but rarely seen. Partners may be permitted access to aggregated analyses of consumer data.

    Should partners also be given access to consumers’ anonymised data as well as the analyses?

    What do you think?

    Post a response here or directly at the HAT Project Forum.

  5. Peter Ward from IBM posted an interesting question to the HAT Project…

    ““Their every move” is an emotive phrase! Straight out of the tabloids :). I would be surprised if HAT is able to do that any time soon.
    So the question is, what types of “move” will people want to be recorded, and at what level of granularity. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if people become excited when they get chance to see their movement based on mobile phone location — how long they spent in traffic, etc — but probably won’t want the increased granularity that shows them how long they spent in each room at home.
    I guess ultimately it comes down to the payback. If the intrusion of metrics into their personal habits provides them with actionable information through complex predictive and comparative analytics (and here I mention SPSS, ILOG and highlight IBM’s expertise in this space) then they will be happy. If monitoring simply tells them what they already know then they’ll turn it off.”

    Of course, Peter is right about not ‘every move’ being recorded. But building a connected IoT in the home does bring the situation a few steps closer.

    I think Peter is also right when he suggest that it isn’t the data being recorded that ultimately will be important for most consumers, but the value that they can get from its collection, analysis and resulting innovations. The possibilities are almost endless: from gamified contextual support for lifestyle goals, through new services created to serve the needs of contextual archetypes, to the opportunity to take a degree of control over their data, what it can be used for and who can gain access to it.

    What do you think?

    Post a response here or directly at the HAT Project Forum.

  6. The HAT Project is building a multi-sided market platform; where consumers and partners who wouldn’t normally meet each other can come together to interact. As Hagiu & Wright note in a recent Sloan Management Review article on Strategic Decisions for Multisided Platforms, attracting enough partners to make the platform attractive to customers, and vice versa, is the hardest part of setting up a successful platform.

    How should the HAT Project attract enough commercial partners to make the multi-sided market interesting for consumers?

    What do you think?

    Post a response here or directly at the HAT Project Forum.

  7. The HAT Project will collect a wide variety of data about consumer behaviour from connected IoT devices in the home. The data will be analysed to identify common patterns, behavioural archetypes, that could serve as the starting point for partners to innovate tailor-made products and services. But the data and analyses could just as easily be used to match the closest current, but still ill-fitting, products and services to consumers.

    How should we encourage partners to use consumer data and analyses to innovate tailor-made new products and services, rather than simply match the closest products and services they have to consumers?

    What do you think?

    Post a response here or directly at the HAT Project Forum.

  8. Consumers may release data and analyses of their behavior to HAT Project partners on the understanding that they will use the insights to create better services to offer consumers. In a world driven according to Levitt this follows a simple three-step process: first you find out what customers want, then you identify how to give it to them profitably, then you tell them about it. Or as Drucker succinctly put it, “the purpose of business is to create a satisfied customer”.

    Most established companies today don’t operate according to Levitt and Drucker. In their world, driven by Shareholder Value, they follow a different three-step process: first they identify what products they want to sell, then they identify target groups of customers, then they tell them about it. There is little insight generation and practically no innovation. To put it another way, the purpose of business is to create a rich shareholder. And marketers are the foot soldiers in the Shareholder Value Army.

    How will we ensure that partners, in particular their marketers, don’t use consumer data and analyses to spam marketers with inappropriate offers?

    What do you think?

    Post a response here or directly at the Hat Project Forum

  9. The Hat Project will keep data about consumers and their use of connected IoT devices in their own Personal Data Store. Although some access to the data may be given – with appropriate permissions – to selected partners, the data will not be available to others. But that won’t stop some others from trying to hack into the data for their own nefarious purposes, or worse, from trying to hack into the IoT devices. As the current edition of The Economist describes in a leader on The Internet of Things (to be Hacked), hackers are now breaking through the weak security on many IoT devices to, in the case of one fridge, use it as an email spam bot!

    How should we keep the HAT Project secure from cyber-hackers?

    What do you think?

    Post a response here or directly at the Hat Project Forum


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