As we communicated in our Annual General Meeting, we had requested a £5,000 Innovate UK voucher. Now we can share with you that we have been awarded with this grant and in fact, we have just seen that the money is in the bank (!!!)
It’s not a big amount of money, but enough to cover the next development that we are going to release: the visualization of our interest graph compared with the average user of TheGoodData based on or browsing data. Here is a screenshot of how it looks like:
First step towards data ownership is about awareness. Only if we are aware of the data that we create we can control it and eventually trade with it in case we want to. This is the goal of this functionality, increase our awareness of the digital footprint that we create while browsing. It help us understand how brands, ad networks and data brokers perceive that we are. Based on a similar categorization we receive some ads instead of others.
We are now testing this new feature before opening it to our users. We want to make sure that the graphs are relevant enough and that the servers can deal with the data volume. As soon as we release it we will communicate it to you.
Once we do it, we will concentrate our efforts on the next developments agreed in the AGM:
- Letting users choose the cause to support with the value of their data. In order to do this we will need to redesign some views and probably look for an alternative nonprofit partner (currently Zidisha)
- Exporting the extension to Firefox
As we agreed in our Annual General Meeting, this year we are going to implement some improvements in order to make the service easier to understand and more appealing, starting with our entry door, the homepage.
TheGoodData concept is far too complex and innovative. We needed to simplify it. We have decided to do so by focusing on our social good angle.
In a research we run early this year, we found out that it was the aspect that people valued more about us, rather than the privacy benefit, that is taken for granted and is not differential from other blocking extensions out there.
Privacy features are still going to work the same way as always, but in this new approach we have stressed the fact that our data is valuable and that we can do some good with it -if we want to donate its value-.
Now it is time for you to tell us what you think. You can do it in the blog comments or sending an email to email@example.com Any feedback will be very much appreciated.
On June 29th, 2015 we had our first Annual General Meeting. It was a great milestone for us. We hope to held more of those virtual meetings and that attendance keep growing on each event.
We believe that there is a new breed of companies that will emerge based on the networking technologies and marginal costs of production. Companies that will be fully decentralized, open and collaborative. Governance tools and processes will be much more transparent and virtual. This Annual General Meeting was our first little step into this vision.
You can read AGM calling notice and minutes here and here.
We will share in a separate post the vision that we shared and discussed for 2015, but looking into the past, our main achievements and lessons learned in 2014 were:
- We’ve set up world’s first data coop. A truly decentralized virtual organization.
- We’ve built our MVP based on privacy tools and collaboration mechanisms.
- We’ve gathered around 20 collaborators, many of them participated altruistically in the strategy elaboration, legal advisory, workshops, etc. Some others wrote around 750 commits in our open code, one third of them pro-bono.
- We’ve achieved certain PR impact with some articles published in Forbes, FastCompany and GigaOm among others.
On the other side we have learnt a lot about users perceptions and barriers of adoption. We have got very valuable feedback that explains why we haven’t achieved yet the traction that we expected. This is our main goal for 2015. We have mentioned in the past some measures that we are currently working on, and we will give you an update soon.
When a company like Google does not have competition, it has no incentive to be the best in the market anymore. A Google monopoly doesn’t need to put all its efforts on satisfying its users and clients. It can focus on maximising its revenue and profit.
Image from CreativeBloq
We have recently suffered the downside of this monopoly. One month ago our Chrome extension was taken down from Google’s Chrome Web Store as we informed in our collaboration platform. It was done in an obscure and unfair way. We never received an email warning about Google’s decision and there was no direct way to get an explanation for their decision.
Google’s monopoly does not need to spend money on people answering emails from developers. It just needs to set up some algorithms that decide which extensions to allow or block. Ours was blocked.
Since we didn’t know the reason and didn’t have the opportunity to speak to any representative, we have released a new extension with many under the hood changes in the hopes that one of them had an impact in the algorithm that had taken us out. We succeeded, since our extension is again live. Or not, since we know about other extensions like disconnect.me that was also taken down and readmitted with no change on their code.
The short term implication on TheGoodData has been the drop in users after being out of the market for almost a month. The most relevant effect on our tactics has been that one of the tweaks that we have done to the extension was taking out the code that allowed us to anonymously sell some browsing data to a data broker.
This second effect leads to a more strategic implication. It makes us rethink the whole commercial and financial approach. In some way, Google’s monopolistic practices are forcing us to be more innovative.
We already had several commercial actions in the pipeline, the 2 most important ones being the following:
- a revision of our home page in order to make our story easier to understand. You can have a look at the draft wireframe here
- building up “TheEvilData” landing and infographics showing you the list of trackers and websites that are worst in class based on our users’ browsing data
- drawing how advertisers and data brokers think we are based on the browsing data that we collect
Google hurdles have made us think about these other actions (linked to the corresponding github issue):
- building a firefox extension
- making the service more engaging by letting users vote for the projects they want to fund. This will probably make us stop working with Zidisha, since they don’t have an API and the breadth of projects is a little more limited than others like justgiving, ammando or globalgiving
- looking for sponsors that want to donate some money for the data users have browsed, in a similar way that Charity Miles is sponsored by companies that rewards miles run by their supporters. This will be a temporary solution until we gain enough volume to deal directly with data buyers without putting the extension at risk of being banned again.
Until we find some companies or organisations that want to sponsor users data there will be some private sponsors that will donate the following amounts:
- 1 USD cent per query made by our users
- 1 USD cent per 100 sites visited by our users
What do you think about those actions? Should we do anything else? We would be glad to get your ideas!
It’s been a very busy week launching TheGoodData. But first of all, we wanted to thank you all for your interest and support to our mission: help you to win back ownership over your data and make it work for a good cause.
We have received lots of messages by people enthusiastic about the initiative. That’s very encouraging. Remember that TheGoodData is world’s first data co-op, so — being your own company — it can only succeed with your active participation. If you feel you can help us anyhow, do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org That would be very appreciated.
We would also like to share with you some articles that have been published about our launch like the ones of Forbes and GigaOm. There will be more articles coming, but now is our time to spread the voice and make TheGoodData grow.
If you have not installed our Chrome extension yet, you can download it here. If you had done it already, and you support our mission, I suggest that you recommend it to your friends and colleagues, either by Twitter, Facebook, Email or face to face. But please, do it! 🙂
We have made our first achievement, 200 people actively using the extension, but we need to be many more to start defending your interests in front of corporations. We want to achieve as soon as possible our first 1,000 users with your help.