Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Locker Project Helps You Stalk Yourself Online

Things Digital

A new start-up called Singly is building an open-source service called the Locker Project to help users archive and leverage their own data, Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb reports tonight.

Singly was founded by Jeremie Miller, who created the open-source instant messaging protocol XMPP. It won the O'Reilly Strata data conference's start-up competition this week, and has already raised some funding from individual investors. (I'd hoped to attend Strata in person, but got caught up in an endless stream of little news items this week.)

Giving users clearer ownership and better access to their data is a geeky topic but an increasingly relevant one, for privacy and other reasons.

Singly will reportedly offer a hosted version of the Locker Project, or just the code itself, for users to collect their participation on social media sites and even their click streams, financial records and heart-rate monitors. This concept is known as "exhaust data," i.e., what users emit as they motor around the Web.

Then, Locker Project users can run yet-to-be-built apps to analyze their exhaust data in order to find patterns, make recommendations, set alerts and do whatever else they can imagine.

So many things we do these days can be recorded, and already are. Rather than just allowing behaviorally targeted advertisers, governments and credit card companies to stalk us, the thought behind projects like this is that we users can gain value out of stalking ourselves and analyzing our own data. I wrote a bit more about the justifications for this stuff during my old gig at GigaOM.

And to be sure, other companies and organizations are exploring the idea of personal archives too–for instance, the recent Y Combinator start-up Greplin is building a unified personal search tool that members can use on their email, calendar, storage and social Web accounts.

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