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The Singapore Quantified Self Meetup Group Message Board › the Fishbowl Flag

the Fishbowl Flag

Wong Meng W.
Singapore, SG
Post #: 1
I brought this up at the July 16 meetup. Several meetup members expressed interest so I thought I'd share the concept here for those who missed the session.

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. 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 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.

We can continue this discussion on my interblog or here in this thread.
Ciaran L.
Singapore, SG
Post #: 4
Thanks for sharing this, Meng. I'm going to drop some links I've collected on your blog.

Ciaran L.
Singapore, SG
Post #: 5
Hmm, my comment on LiveJournal was marked as spam, probably because of all the links. Anyway, re-posting here...

I mentioned some of these at the QS meetup, others are new.

Fire Eagle. Ahead of its time, it wanted to be a location-brokerage service. Basically obsoleted by the Phone.


OpenPaths, a "private, secure data locker for personal location information". Run by the NYT, it allows you to opt into sharing your data for research purposes.­­

MyCube seems to be dead. But one of their incarnations was meant to allow you to selectively sell your private information to marketers.


Insinc - the research project to see if they can shift peak hour MRT traffic in Singapore to off-peak times has an interesting carrot for Quantified Self type. It allows you to view the past 14-days travel activity, and while it's not yet available for export, it's a pretty simple copy and paste to Excel. Nice to play with.­

More links as I think of them...

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